With 5 euros or less, you can get a kilogram of ground meat, which is quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes a packet of 400 grams ground meat can last for 10 meals, which may already have passed the date stated on its package. So you would wonder, should I use it or should I throw it away?
Well, like dairy products, the date stated on the package very often is the ‘sell-by’ date. If the package of ground meat is opened and the balance is transferred into a tightly-closed container and refrigerated at all times, then it can still remain safe to use for 1 to 3 days after the sell-by date. It is similar in the case of unopened ground meat.
The shelf life of ground meat can be further extended if it is frozen. Theoretically, foods that are freshly frozen can last indefinitely. This is because water that’s present in the ground meat is not available for microbial use, therefore the microbes hardly grow in it to cause spoilage to the food. However, the freezing time plays an important role in determining the actual shelf life. Unopened ground meat will generally stay good for a few months in the freezer when the package is overwrapped with a plastic wrap and then stored in the freezer before reaching the sell-by date. Alternatively, you can cook the ground meat and then store it in the freezer, which could also last for a month.
A general rule of thumb is that ground meat can still be used for a few days after the sell-by date if it is properly stored. But you should discard any ground meat with a sour smell, slimy texture or off-color (example as seen in the image below).
Speaking about dairy, what comes to your mind? Milk? Cheese? Yogurt? Exactly! Not only those, piimä (cultured milk), ice cream, butter, sherbet, and many other desserts are also dairy-based products.
Many of us think that the date printed on the dairy products is an expiration date. Well, they are not, instead they are usually a ‘sell-by’ date. Therefore, fresh dairy products, eg. pasteurized milk, are in fact safe to be consumed up to one week after the ‘sell-by’ date, with the condition that the product is STORED PROPERLY at all times i.e. refrigerate as soon as possible after purchasing them, cover the opened product nicely after each use and refrigerate promptly. Despite being safe to consume, nutrient content (for example, vitamin C is gradually oxidized over time) and the amount of probiotics (in case of yogurt, for instance) are lower than the values labeled on the container.
But how do you tell whether it has gone bad? Can you tell which one looks like a spoiled milk in the picture below?
Yes, the answer is: the picture on the left. Common traits of spoiled dairy products are distinctive sour smell, off-color, and lumpy texture. All these are the result of fermentation by various lactic acid bacteria. They are no longer safe to be consumed because you may end up getting diarrhea or even worse!
In a nut shell, dairy products are generally safe to be consumed when they had passed the ‘sell-by’ date but are stored properly at all times. So don’t hesitate to buy a yogurt that has today’s date printed on its label!
The information provided here is served as a general guideline.
Nutritionist of The Froodly Team
Wan Lih Ching
Froodly is looking for a marketing communications intern!
We’re looking to bring an intern in to our team to help us out with content creation for both online and offline communications, analysis of marketing data, and English-Finnish translation of materials. You will have a great opportunity to learn on the fly in the fast-paced start-up environment, and have the chance to learn a greater variety of skills in this smaller team start-up.
Applicants must be Finnish and based in Helsinki. Please send applications to firstname.lastname@example.org.