12 Foods You Must Toss After Their Expiration Date Soft cheeses
How long they last: One to two weeks, depending on the type of soft cheese; however, they should be tossed at the first sign of spoiling
Harder cheeses like cheddar or gouda have a longer shelf life in the fridge because it’s more difficult for bacteria and mold to permeate them. Once opened, though, hard and processed cheeses last about three to four weeks, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—and you can cut out a one-inch square around a small moldy area and use the rest of the cheese if you have to.
However, softer cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese or goat cheese are more susceptible to bacteria and should be tossed at the first sign of spoiling or once the expiration date has passed, whichever comes first. As a general rule, the softer the cheese, the shorter the shelf life, so two weeks max for cream cheese and one week for ricotta, say the experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Something else to take note of: Does butter actually expire?
How long they last: One month or one year, depending on the condiment; however, they should be tossed if there’s discoloration or an odd odor
It may seem like spreads and sauces last forever, but just because they’re in a glass jar tucked away in the cool refrigerator doesn’t mean they’re untouchable by bacteria. “Once you’ve opened the lid, that safety seal is broken, and you should be using that condiment in a timely fashion,” says Crandall. “In addition, as we make sandwiches, for example, we dip our knife into the spread container and wipe it onto the sandwich and then dip it back into the container. By doing this you’re putting some of that bacteria back into the container.”
Mustard can last up to a year in the fridge, but chuck the salsa after one month, mayo after two, BBQ sauce after four months and ketchup after six, according to New York’s Department of Agriculture. But if you notice any water floating on top, discoloration or weird smells, it’s best to toss it no matter how long it’s been refrigerated.
How long it lasts: Three to five days
Similar to jarred spreads, potato, tuna or egg salads are more susceptible to bacterial growth because they have more instances of exposure—say, when you take just a few scoops at a time from the container. You may also simply forget that the salad has been sitting there for days. And once your salad has been contaminated, you’re more at risk for food poisoning. “Our food system is very safe, but sometimes when things fall out of temperature or if there is bacteria introduced, we have to be extra cautious,” says Crandall. So toss deli or homemade salads after three to five days, warns the USDA. If you want to sprinkle some salt on that potato salad, here’s what to know about salt expiration.