If you’re in the habit of cooking, preparing food, storing it at home, or even reading food blogs, you may have come across the term shelf life.
That said, what is the shelf life of food? Simply put, a product’s shelf life refers to a period of time during which food remains of acceptable quality and is safe to consume.
The shelf life usually depends on a number of factors, including the formulation of the food product, the processing it underwent, the quality of packaging, and the storage conditions it has been kept in.
For example, you can reasonably assume that a well-packaged tin of tomatoes kept in a cool dry place (preferably your pantry) will have a much longer shelf life than a regular tomato left out on your kitchen counter in the sunlight.
Here are a few examples of different foods and their respective shelf lives:
Packaged foods – once packaged food has been opened, it can be assumed to have a shelf life of 3 days if stored correctly according to its instructions. The 3-day shelf life should also be within the best-before date specified by the manufacturer.
Freshly cooked food – once food has been freshly cooked and cooled down, it should be refrigerated within two hours. Once it is cooled, it has a shelf life of 3 days and can be reheated and served.
Frozen foods – frozen foods must be put back into the freezer as soon as the groceries are brought home. The food can remain in the freezer for up to 3 months but may not remain of the best quality for that entire period.
If you would like to learn more about food safety and how to tell if food is safe to consume or not, a food safety course would be beneficial. The Australian Institute of Accreditation offers an excellent Online Food Safety Supervisor course in NSW. With all the information you need, you can forget all about worries regarding expired food.