Food Safety and Saving Money

As grocery bills skyrocket, some families are forced to turn to outdated food to save money.  
Newschannel 10's Stephanae Benson tell you how if you store your food properly, you can get more bang for your buck. 
The "Safe Home Food Storage" published by the Potter County AgriLife Extension Service provides a booklet that tells you everything you need to know to make sure your food stays fresh and safe to eat. We sat down with Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Susan Church who has these addtional tips for Panhandle Families.      

First, set your refrigerator between 35 and 40 degrees, otherwise your food could spoil a lot faster. 

"Just a matter of a couple of degrees your going to find that's where bacteria grows the best." 
Perishable food items like milk need to be used within three days of the expiration date, because the "sniff" test isn't always dependable. 

"The one thing about food safety some of the bacteria that are really harmful for us that can make us really sick, we can't taste, we can't see, we can't smell."
Church says use yogurt within ten days of the expiration date. But eggs are a different story.

"This is the only food item that we can be this generous with. The expiration date will allow you another month to use the item."
Meat is something church says you always want to either cook or freeze by the "use by" date. 

"We always go by the slogan when in doubt throw it out because if you're saving yourself $.50 by using the meal, you're going to be paying thousands if you go to the hospital."
If the item has been opened like lunch meat, use within 3 to 5 days. With hot dogs and bacon, you have about a week. Store dry goods and canned goods in the pantry at room temperature. 
Storing them someplace like the garage could cause them to get too hot.

"If you see the can is damaged, or has a bulging top, cause that means that we have some bacteria gases growing inside the can."  

Also, the Food And Drug Administration says avoiding certain dates can be dangerous. Here is a list of guidelines you want to follow:

  • "Sell by" date. This tells the store how long to hold the food for sale. Don't buy the product after this date. Food sold on the "sell by " date can still be eaten later. For example, milk generally is safe and wholesome 7 to 10 days after the date on the label. This is a "sell by" date for the grocery store, not a "use by" date for the consumer.
  • "Freshness" date or "quality assurance" date. This date suggests how long the manufacturer thinks the food will remain at peak quality. The label might read "Best if used by November, 2005." The product still may be used after this date, although it may no longer meet the company's standard for freshness.
  • "Pack" date or "package" date. This is the date the food was packaged or processed. With this information, consumers can decide which package is fresher. Fresh meat is labeled with a pack date. Do not buy ground beef packaged three days ago when a package is available that was packed today.
  • "Expiration" date. This is the last date the product should be eaten. It might read, "Do not use after March, 2005." Always discard food that has passed the expiration date.

To pick up a booklet on safe home food storage call 373-0713.