Expiry Dates and how long can I keep food in my fridge for?

I received so many emails about expiry dates and the shelf life of food after being on Toronto’s Breakfast TV that I have created a list of links as well as my list from the show.

Here are the two segments, in case you missed them, and below I’ve included links to lists of the shelf life of condiments as well as a small list of the most common foods you may have in your fridge.

How to Correctly store your food Part 1

 How to Correctly store your food Part 2 


Best Before Dates

The best before date only applies BEFORE you open the jar or bottle. After its opened, that date is no longer valid.

It’s important to know that the date only indicates how long a food is at is peak according to the manufacturer.

Fellow professional home economist Getty Stewart wrote a fabulously informative article about expiry dates and best before issues. Here’s the link.


Once you’ve opened the product

I write the date I open a product right on the label with a marker. But you can write the date it expires according to the following links, see below.  Whatever method works for you, use it.

The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education (CPCFSE) has a very comprehensive chart for foods like meat, fish and poultry, plus dairy products and eggs.

Food does not last as long in an overcrowded fridge. Without proper air circulation the correct cold temperature is not doing its thing. Haven’t seen the back of your fridge since last Spring? Do a check through and heave ho old condiments.

The sniff taste does not work. Food can be riddled with bacteria and not smell or look bad. You may not be affected by the bacteria but a small child, a senior or someone with a compromised immune system has a bigger chance of developing food poisoning. When in doubt throw it out.

Make sure that your fridge is set at 4°C/40 °F or slightly lower and your freezer at -18 °C (0 °F) or lower. This will keep your food out of the temperature danger zone which is between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) where bacteria can grow quickly.

Tip: Its coldest on the bottom shelf, store eggs there in their carton, not on the door. The door is least cold place in your fridge, condiments are fine living there.

Here’s the shelf life of products that I talked about on Breakfast TV. Remember his applies to opened products:

Mustard – up to 1 year in the fridge

Jam – up to 6 months in the fridge

Maple Syrup – 1 year in the fridge, indefinitely in the freezer

Peanut butter – natural – up to 6 months in the fridge

Peanut butter – with sugar, etc. up to 3 months in the pantry

Soy sauce or tamari – up to 2 years in the fridge

Balsamic Vinegar – cool dark place up to 3 years

Apple Cider Vinegar – cool dark place up to 2 years

Mayonnaise – up to 2 months in the fridge

Ketchup –  1 month out of the fridge and 6 months to 1 year in the fridge – I say 6 months because of the dried out and congealed bits of the ketchup inside and on the lid. That causes me concern, and I like to err on the side of caution.

For a comprehensive list check out Still Tasty

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