With the busyness of the day, it’s easy to overlook the loads of Tupperware filled with leftovers sitting on the shelves of your fridge. You may not think about tossing out the meat you wrapped in aluminum foil a week ago until that awful smell hits your nose when you open the refrigerator door.
The reality is that many of the foods you love have gone bad well before there’s a stench or before the green fuzz starts to grow on your cheese. With the cost of food on the rise, it can be tempting to keep foods months past the expiration date. Eating foods that have been inside your refrigerator for far too long can cause complications for your health.
Most people don’t have a problem with properly storing foods in the fridge, but the appropriate time to toss them is what causes debate. If you’re wondering what to toss and when, here are five common foods in your refrigerator that could be spoiling your health.
1. Deli Meat
Deli meat is a fan favorite because it gives you all the flavor and protein that you’d get in a freshly baked turkey or ham without all of the work. However, prepacked deli meat is highly processed and contains high amounts of sodium and nitrates to preserve it. Not only does deli meat increase your risks for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, but it may contain Listeria from cross-contamination during processing.
When to Ditch the Deli Meat
If you get deli meat cut fresh from the deli or you slice your own meat at home, you can keep it refrigerated for about five days. Unopened prepackage lunch meat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but once you eat the first slice, you have up to five days before it’s time to toss it.
2. Lettuce and Leafy Greens
Lettuce and leafy greens are a great way to pack your salads, wraps, and sandwiches with low-calorie nutrients. Romaine is a popular choice that provides Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and folate while kale provides Vitamins A, C, and K and calcium. As healthy as these options are, there’s a reason you frequently hear about them being recalled.
Low-growing lettuce and leafy greens are an easy target for E. coli to thrive. Contaminated water can easily reach the edible parts of the leaves of lettuce and leafy greens. Unlike other foods, lettuce and leafy greens are consumed without cooking so, it’s important to know when to throw them out.
Let Us Toss the Lettuce!
You may think that lettuce is safe to eat as long as it hasn’t started wilting, but if it’s past the date printed on the bag, you should toss it. A head of lettuce is good for up to three weeks in your refrigerator while a bag of spinach is good for about seven days. If you decide to pre-cut your lettuce, it’s only good for about 3 days. To preserve your lettuce, you shouldn’t wash it before you are ready to eat it.
Whether you like them hard-boiled, scrambled, or sprinkled throughout your salad, eggs are a convenient source of