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When in Doubt, Throw It Out

September 9, 2021

Published by: CHI Living Communities

If you often eat out or aren’t careful when preparing meals in your own kitchen, know the symptoms of eating improperly prepared food. They usually occur within three to 72 hours and may include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, chills, diarrhea or blood in your stools. 

If you get food sickness, drink plenty of clear liquids—water, broths and juices, except for pear and apple juice. Ginger ale also can be helpful, but drink it at room temperature. Also, avoid dairy products, fatty foods and highly seasoned foods, which can make symptoms worse.

While you want to practice food safety, be aware that food expiration dates refer to quality only, not safety. Below are foods often thrown away too soon, and when they should be eaten after buying: 

  • Eggs—within 3 to 5 weeks
  • Milk—up to 7 days
  • Butter—within 3 months
  • Cold cuts/deli meat—within 2 weeks (unopened) or 5 days (opened)
  • Ketchup—within 6 months after opened and refrigerated
  • Mayo—within 2 months after opened and refrigerated
  • Rice and pasta—within 2 years (if stored in a dark, cool pantry)


Regardless of expiration dates, most acidic canned foods, such as tomatoes, can be safely stored for up to 1.5 years. Other canned items—meats, tuna fish, vegetables and fruits—can be stored and safely eaten for up to 5 years.

Again, the quality will begin deteriorating, so be sure to eat items sooner for the best taste. Always toss any canned or bottled items that are bulging or have a broken seal. And, when in doubt, throw it out!