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8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now

8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now

You need to get rid of these foods in your refrigerator


If leftovers have been in your refrigerator for more than four days, it’s time to toss them.

The refrigerator is arguably one of the most important inventions of the nineteenth century. Its ability to preserve food and help limit or prevent foodborne illnesses is undeniable. But, despite its merits, your refrigerator can also encourage you to store food beyond its shelf life and it can damage the taste and texture of some healthy foods, making them less desirable to eat. Cleaning out your refrigerator can have huge benefits for your health and wellness and it can help you make the most of the healthy foods in your home.

Click here to see the 8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now (Slideshow)

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences recommends cleaning your refrigerator out by removing the contents of your fridge, tossing any spoiled or expired foods, and then wiping down the shelves with warm water mixed with baking soda (two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water). Be sure to remove the drawers and shelves and wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water — these are some of the germiest places in your kitchen. After the refrigerator is washed, return any foods that should be saved to the refrigerator.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that our refrigerator is home to some of the unhealthiest foods in the home and that those foods should be eliminated. From sodas to deli meat, our refrigerators are packed with added sugar, empty calories, and nitrates. Knowing which pre-packaged and convenience foods are the unhealthiest (and replacing them with wholesome options) can have tremendous impacts for your health. Even products labeled "diet" or "low-fat" are worth getting rid of; they are often loaded with preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and salt.

When you're cleaning your fridge you'll also want to throw away foods that shouldn't be stored in the refrigerator in general. The refrigerator compromises the taste and texture of foods like fresh basil and under-ripe avocados. These are healthy foods that should be a regular part of a healthy diet but storing them in the refrigerator makes them less desirable to eat. Throw out the portions that have been stored in the refrigerator but replace them, storing them at room temperature or in the freezer in the future.

It can be difficult to know which foods are worth saving and which foods need to be thrown out, so we've compiled a quick guide of some of the most common foods in your refrigerator that need to be trashed.

(Credit: Shutterstock)
If you’ve been storing food in the refrigerator in an open can, throw it away. Studies show that harmful metals are transferred into foods when they’re stored this way.

(Credit: Thinkstock)
Most margarine contains trans-fat, which raises your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol, and increases your risk for heart disease. If your margarine contains any trans-fat, toss it.

Click here to see more of the Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

8 common fridge mistakes you could be making

Too often, we take our fridges for granted. But (ungrudgingly) they soldier on, keeping our food fresh so that we can enjoy delicious and nutritious scram day-on-day.

It's time to treat your fridge how you would treat a brand new car, with care, attention and compassion. For starters: Are you really refrigerating your food correctly?

A well kept fridge will properly preserve your goods, preventing you from needlessly throwing away food.

However, a recent study by the United Nations Environment Programme and WRAP found that the UK has the highest level of household food waste in Northern Europe, at 5,199,825 tonnes a year. That's approximately 515 x the weight of the Eiffel Tower and is costing each household with children up to £700 a year!

To help reduce this staggering figure, and even save money on a trip to Paris, the GHI has compiled advice on the eight common fridge mistakes you could be making.

Here's how to get out of bad fridge habits right now.

If You Have This Salad Dressing in Your Fridge, Throw It Out Now

Over 13,000 pillows of Caesar salad dressing from Litehouse Inc. are the subject of a recall because they may contain undeclared anchovies, according to a notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration. Anyone with an allergy or sensitivity to fish could have an adverse reaction should they consume the product.

The 1.5-ounce small white packets of Brite Harbor salad dressing and dip were distributed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. All customers impacted have been notified of the recall, which was initiated when the pillows of salad dressing were discovered to say "Caesar" on the front and "Blue Cheese" on the back. An investigation revealed that a packaging mistake caused the error. No reports of injuries or reactions from eating the salad dressing have been reported. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.)

The packets have a "Best By" date of 03 071321 and a lot code of 03 071321 16002 60/1.5 oz Brite Harbor Caesar. The notice says that no other Litehouse products are involved.

"Litehouse took this action proactively because people who are sensitive or have allergies to anchovies could be at risk of an adverse reaction if they consume this product," the notice says. "Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider."

If you have this Caesar salad dressing and dip in your kitchen, throw it out or you can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

With many recalls to know of recently, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Here are 8 Food Recalls You Need to Know About Now. And to get all the latest grocery store and health news right to your inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!

8 Refrigerator Items You Probably Need to Toss

Certain foods can survive a long stay in your kitchen &mdash but others just can't, not even in the fridge&rsquos chill. Free up some shelf space by ditching these staples with expiration dates that might surprise you.

That Box of Baking Soda

In an effort to quell smells, you stashed a new box in the fridge when you moved in, but that was how long ago? You can cook with baking soda that's up to 3 years old, but if you want it to keep that pungent stuffed cabbage odor from infiltrating your cheesecake, you should replace the box every month or so.

Open Cans and Tins

Exposed to air, a half-used can of tomato paste will dry out, take on the flavors of other foods in the fridge or, worse, get contaminated by drips from leaking packages (think chicken or beef). If your pasta puttanesca calls for only four anchovies, transfer the leftovers to an airtight, resealable container before refrigerating.

Bags of Prewashed Greens

Some produce will last for weeks &mdash but, sadly, not packaged lettuces and spinach. Even if the leaves aren&rsquot wilted, heed the expiration date on the bag to avoid exposing yourself to bacterial growth.


Until buttermilk is sold in half-pint containers (someone, please!), chances are you'll have leftovers hanging around long after you master your first homemade ranch dressing. If buttermilk is more than two weeks old, toss it. And next time, freeze leftovers in ice cube trays or small containers.

Photo: Alexander Feig/Getty

Soft Cheeses

Ricotta, goat cheese and other soft varieties will last for just one week, so use 'em soon &mdash in pasta sauces, soups, dips and sandwiches &mdash or out they go.

Ground Beef and Poultry

Two days. That's how long the Department of Agriculture says raw hamburger, ground turkey and ground chicken is safe before you run the risk of E. coli contamination. Why so short? Ground meat is handled more during processing, and in the case of beef, it may include meat from more than one animal or slaughterhouse. If you're a once-a-week shopper, toss that package in the freezer when you get home and thaw it a day before serving.


If you made the effort to tote that leftover eggplant Parmesan home from dinner out, make sure you eat it within four days. Otherwise, stow it in the freezer for a night when you're too tired to cook.

Chicken Broth

Once you pop the top on a carton of chicken broth, it's good for just four days. That's not a problem if you're making soup, but it's a potential waste if you're using just a glug for a stir-fry or cream sauce. Use it up in risottos, mashed potatoes, glazed vegetables or pilafs &mdash or freeze it for later.

50 Things in Your Kitchen to Get Rid Of Right Now

Imagine how blissful it will feel to reach into decluttered cabinets!

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From Trash to Treasure

The kitchen is easily the most lived-in room in the house. It&rsquos where food is prepared, shared and stored, but it also serves as the meeting place for family and friends. Achievements are fastened to fridges, homework is completed at its counters, debates are held at its tables &mdash it&rsquos the lifeforce of the house. So, it&rsquos no wonder our kitchens are overrun with stuff and the residue of those experiences.

Here are a few ways to help you separate the treasures from the trash and keep your favorite room in the house decluttered and in tiptop working order.

Mildewed Kitchen Sponge

Those squishy sponges you use to scrub your dishes clean are leading a double life &mdash as a sanitizer and haven for nasty microbes &mdash which is why your kitchen sponge has a shelf life of about one to two weeks. In the meantime, you can sanitize your sponge in the top rack of your dishwasher.

Scratched Nonstick Pans

The glossy coating that keeps omelets from sticking and stir-fries stirring eventually starts to break down. As soon as the gloss is gone, or a dreaded scratch appears, it&rsquos time to toss the pan. After all, no one wants their food stuck to the bottom of the pan.

To keep your pans like new longer, avoid using metal tools on them. If you stack your pans in the cupboard, place a protective sheet of paper towel in between them to prevent scratches.

Lost-Container Lids

Lidless Tupperware falls under the useless category. A storage container that can no longer stow has no business cluttering precious cabinet space. Much like the missing sock mate situation, the Tupperware/lid mystery may not be solvable either, except to discard those useless containers.

BPA Plastic Containers

BPA, or bisphenol, is an industrial chemical used in plastics and resins. Worries that the chemical can seep into food and drink has pushed manufacturers to produce more and more BPA-free products. So, while you&rsquore pairing your food containers with their lids, go ahead and toss out any old containers with recycle codes 3, 6 and 7 that might contain the toxic chemical.

Leaky or Lidless Travel Mugs

Leaky mugs, lidless travel cups &mdash they all need to go. Edit your collection down to your favorite one or two travel mugs and you won&rsquot have to sift through the noncontenders each morning.

Broken Blenders, Mix-less Mixers, Oh My!

We may be calling out the broken blender, but we are looking at you, too, hand mixer with no beaters and waffle iron that no longer crisps. Get rid of all those small appliances that have outlived their usefulness. Honestly, if you haven't fixed 'em by now, it's not going to happen.

Sprouted, Shriveled Potatoes

The best place to store potatoes is in a cool, dark place. Unfortunately, that means potatoes are often forgotten until found shriveled and rotten in the back of your pantry. Don&rsquot be a victim of pungent gases from rotten potatoes. Designate a basket for your light-sensitive root vegetables that can be easily checked for spoilage.

Old Spices and Herbs

Have you looked in your spice cabinet lately? When&rsquos the last time you reached for the fenugreek? It may be time to clean out and refresh old spices and herbs. Like anything else in your kitchen, spices and dried herbs have a "best by" date. They might not mold, but they will start to lose their potency &mdash about three years for whole spices, two years for ground, and one to two years for dried herbs.

Rancid Cooking Oils

On a whim, you reach for the dusty, sticky bottle of canola oil in the back of your pantry you&rsquore going to make brownies. Unfortunately, that tackiness on the outside of the bottle is a bad omen for what&rsquos on the inside: metallic-smelling, rancid oil.

Fruit and vegetable oils are particularly susceptible to spoilage. The less saturated the fat, the faster the oil will turn. Keep the very sensitive ones, like walnut and toasted sesame oils, in the fridge to extend their shelf life. After opening, expect most oils, like olive oil and canola, to last six months if stored properly in a cool, dark place.

Past-Their-Prime Pantry Staples

Pasta, rice, flour and all your other favorite grains eventually go bad. Check expiration dates or give it a good sniff to check for that rancid oil smell. Storing your rice, flour and pasta in airtight containers, rather than their opened boxes and bags, will help keep your dry goods fresher longer.

Dried pasta typically lasts up to two years (whole grain up to six months). Brown rice lasts up to one year white rice is closer to two years. All-purpose flour lasts about one year.

Expired Baking Powder

Nothing is worse than working all day on a baking project only for it to fall flat because your chemical leaven of choice, baking powder, is past its prime. Throw out opened baking powder after one year. But if you need to do a quick spot check, drop some in warm water. If it activates and bubbles vigorously, then it&rsquos good to use.

Over-the-Hill Beer

Maybe your eyes were bigger than your beer belly when you shopped for that party in July. Now you need to either drink or ditch that extra beer on the verge of spoilage. In the pantry, beer will last six to nine months in the fridge, it's good for six months to two years.

Canned Goods

Canned foods are safe to eat indefinitely, says the USDA, so long as they are not dented, bulging or exposed to freezing temperatures or those above 90 degrees F. But that doesn't mean they will always taste great. For the best flavor and quality, follow these guidelines:

High-Acid Canned Foods (tomatoes, fruit): Up to one-and-a-half years at room temperature

Low-Acid Canned Foods (chicken broth, beans, vegetables, meats): Up to five years at room temperature

Liquor with a Shelf Life

High-proof alcohol will last what feels like indefinitely, but other items on your drink cart should be stored properly and tossed more frequently.

Specifically, noncreamy liqueurs spoil more easily than plain spirits, so toss after one year or when you detect discoloration, crystallization or odor. Keep creamy liqueurs in the fridge for up to six months after opening, but check the bottle for an official expiration date. Bitters last for years, even after opening, so hang on to those.

Coffee Beans

If you can&rsquot remember the last time you reached for that bag of coffee, it&rsquos best to toss it. Whole or ground beans in a vacuum-packed bag will last up to four months, unopened, on the counter and up to one week once opened. In a can, whole or ground beans will last one year unoepened and one week once opened.

Rancid Peanut Butter

Peanut butter lingering on the shelves isn&rsquot likely to happen in most houses, but just in case, remember to throw out peanut butter that has been sitting for more than three months. Just like other oils, the unsaturated fat in peanut butter will quickly turn rancid and bitter.

Opened Jars of Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is often the last-minute dinner saving grace. But, once opened, tomato sauce has a surprisingly short shelf life. Store it in the fridge for five to seven days, then that jar has got to go.

Stale Snack Foods

The bag of chips you reached for once and banished to the back of the pantry is so stale it&rsquos destined for the trash. Prevent these lost snacks by designating an opened snack basket in the front of your pantry, easy for all hungry parties to find.

Expired Condiments

Check your condiments, particularly those one-off items you bought for a recipe a year ago and never touched again. If you see separation, off-color or odor, it is best to throw those sauces out. (The same goes for salad dressings.)

Forgotten Leftovers

If you can&rsquot remember eating it the first time, it's probably safe to assume you shouldn&rsquot be eating it a second time. Leftovers pushed to the back of the fridge are lost to the trash in the end. Try dating your containers and using a FIFO (first in, first out) system to keep track of leftovers.

Opened Stocks and Broths

Prepared stocks last only up to four days in the fridge. Go ahead and throw out any past-date stock. Going forward, freeze leftover broths and stocks in ice cube trays, then store in airtight bags to increase the shelf life.

Freezer-Burned Food

Freezer burn isn&rsquot just something you can brush off your food. It&rsquos damage caused by dehydration and oxidation when food isn&rsquot properly wrapped and stored in the freezer.

And while the USDA deems freezer burn no risk to your health, it&rsquos probably safe to assume that the chicken, peas, ice cream or steak that fell victim to your freezer&rsquos icy ways won&rsquot taste all that great.

Some tips to prevent freezer burn include wrapping items tightly in plastic wrap and then storing in an airtight container, taking extra care to push out all the air from freezer bags, and cooling hot foods to room temperature before storing those foods in an airtight container in the freezer.

Maxed-Out Baking Soda Air Freshener

Don&rsquot want your food stored in your refrigerator to smell like, well, the fridge? Placing a box of odor-absorbent baking soda on a shelf will do the trick. But just as all good things must come to an end, the baking soda&rsquos stench-removal powers will last only so long &mdash about three months. Take the guesswork out of this one by writing the date on the box each time you replace your odor absorber.

Past-Due Water Filter

Pitchers with built-in water filters are great for providing your family with purified water without relying on bottled water, but don&rsquot forget to replace old filters every 40 gallons or so.

Chipped and Stained Bowls, Cups and Plates

Do you have an abundance of dishware and glassware? Then it&rsquos probably time to toss out that chipped beer glass from college. Also, consider losing any stained mugs or cracked cereal bowls from the rotation.

Pressureless Fire Extinguisher

Most manufacturers give a shelf life of anywhere from five to 15 years for fire extinguishers. That&rsquos a huge range! How can you be sure yours will put out the fire when you need it most? Set a reminder to check your equipment monthly. Make sure the tamper seal is on the extinguisher, that it's holding the pin in firmly, and that it hasn't been damaged. Also, make sure the extinguisher is full just by weighing it/lifting it.

Expired Disinfectants

We rely on cleaning products to keep our kitchen safe and sanitized. But those cleaning products that keep last night&rsquos chicken from contaminating this morning&rsquos fruit bowl eventually lose their effectiveness. Date your bottles so you know when to replace them. Most antibacterial products last about one year multipurpose cleaners without antibacterials can last up to two years.

Takeaway Menus

Yes, we used to keep drawers of takeaway menus, but now, with online delivery services and menus, this paper trail is virtually (pun intended) obsolete. However, if your favorite place still takes call-in orders, or you just like to have a physical menu on hand, consider whittling down your collection to only those restaurants you&rsquove ordered from in the past six months.

Old Sauce Packets

The drive-thru sauces packets &mdash it always feels wrong to throw them out, doesn&rsquot it? That is, until you have a drawer full of mystery sauces. Declutter. Dump anything that looks off and limit yourself to just one small jar of sauce packets for on-the-go meals .

Mismatched Flatware

It&rsquos time to adult. Rather than surviving on stolen spoons and mismatched flatware, invest in a good-quality, dishwasher safe set that can go from every day to dinner party without you rifling through the drawer to find four matching forks.

Stained Dish Towels and Holey Oven Mitts

It&rsquos time to take stock of that dish towel collection. Consider the danger of grabbing a hot pan only to find your oven mitt has a gaping hole in the thumb. Stained, ripped or torn towels and oven mitts should be tossed.

Cracked Wooden Spoons

Over time, wooden spoons lose their moisture and crack, and those cracks become home to bacteria. Since nobody wants to stir their dinner stew with a bacteria-rich spoon, it&rsquos safer to just replace those tools. The same rule applies to wooden cutting boards.

Warped Cutting Boards

For plastic cutting boards, which are easier to disinfect, the greatest tell that your board has run its course is warping. Eventually, enough hot rinses will cause your cutting board to bow. A bowed cutting board isn&rsquot easily secured with a counter grip or towel, and it becomes a dangerous item on which to cut. Toss it.

Old Rubber Spatulas

Rubber spatulas are the great workhorse utensil in the kitchen &mdash perfect for folding batters, stirring together sauces and even spreading frosting. But all that wear and tear adds up to cracked spatulas, which can become home to bacteria, but also the dried rubber can start to flake off into food. Check and replace your spatulas as needed.

Broken Drawer Organizers

Even drawer organizers don&rsquot last forever. If you find your silverware caddy breaking down or you&rsquove outgrown that gadget drawer organizer, then there is really no need to hang on to a failing system.

Pans You Don’t Use

We&rsquove all done it: invested in the 10- or 12-piece (or more!) cookware set only to discover we use two, maybe three, of the pans on a day-to-day basis. Rather than throw out those pans (because you will need them for the next holiday cooking extravaganza), instead relocate those unused pans to a hall closet or shelf in the garage.

Overflowing Plastic Bag Stash

The stash of plastic bags is a well-intended effort to not just toss another plastic shopping bag into the landfill. But those intentions have turned into an unmanageable collection of bags. Instead, invest in some reusable shopping bags and keep them in the trunk of your car, so you are never caught shopping without them. Look for recycling centers and grocery stores that accept plastic bag recycling, as the bags usually don't go in with the regular plastics.

Half-Burned Candles

Those half-burned dinner candles from last week&rsquos dinner party are just taking up space in the drawer. Melt them down to make votives or toss to make way for a fresh set.

Magnets That Don’t Work

Don&rsquot use your fridge as a wall of advertisements, particularly if those cheap magnets can&rsquot even hold a simple grocery list on the fridge. Throw out the clutter.

Kitchenware Gifts You Don’t Use

Don&rsquot hang on any gadget, platter or serving utensil just because it was a gift. If you haven&rsquot used the item in years, consider donating it.

Un-Sharp Can Opener

Ever found yourself muscling through to open that can of corn with a very dull can opener? Toss it immediately so you never find yourself disappointed by that can opener again.

Baby Utensils You No Longer Need

If your kids are out of their booster chairs and strolling into middle school, you can probably toss the Toy Story plates and Barbie sippy cups.

Unitaskers That Clutter

Avocado knives, butter dispenser, apple slicer, hot dog slicer, strawberry slicer, egg slicer . so many one-note slicers. If you&rsquove fallen prey to these drawer-cluttering unitaskers in the past, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" Is an avocado knife better than a chef&rsquos knife and spoon combo?

Rusty Bakeware

Any cook would agree: Good tools makes for easier work. And while we wouldn&rsquot suggest you haphazardly start throwing out bakeware, anything that&rsquos starting to rust is better not cooked in.

Expired Batteries

The junk drawer, where batteries go to die. Rather than play Russian roulette each time you need a battery, buy a small collection of fresh batteries and recycle or dispose of them properly when they&rsquove reached their expiration date. Pay a little more for the lithium batteries, as their shelf life is about five to 10 years longer than alkaline.

Takeout Chopsticks

Have you ever noticed you always end up with way more takeout chopsticks than people? Consider this, if you order Chinese takeout once a week, and receive one extra pair per order, by the end of the year you&rsquoll have 52 pairs of chopsticks in your drawer &mdash that&rsquos way too many. For your next order make sure you check off the "no utensils" box.

Dried-Up Pens and Markers

You don&rsquot need a drawer full of markers and pens to run an effective kitchen &mdash just a one or two of each will get the job done. Then, keep them in a designated pen holder so you aren&rsquot searching around every time you want to label some leftovers.

Fridge Note Clutter

Clearing out the front of your fridge is the fastest way to provide at least the illusion of a tidy kitchen. Keep only the necessities on there, like a running grocery list, a dinner party prep list or the latest drawing from your kid.

Old Vitamins and Medicine

Don&rsquot let your medicine and first-aid kits grow out of control. Keep all medical supplies in one area of the kitchen. Check expiration dates and toss past-due pills and prescriptions. Then, inventory any first-aid supplies so bandages, burn cream and antibiotics are easy to find when you need them.

Unused Cookbooks

There are cookbooks with cracked spines and sticky pages that are a testament to just how beloved they are, and then there are pristine, barely read cookbooks in every kitchen. Once a year, take stock of the books you use and the books you don&rsquot. Give away or move out of the kitchen any cookbooks you don&rsquot cook from to make way for more-useful items.

11 Things in Your Kitchen You Need to Throw Away Now

A food safety experts identifies the items that really must go.

When it comes to keeping or tossing the stuff in our kitchens, we tend to waffle: Do I need to get rid of that old cutting board?Is this leftover chicken still good? To get to the bottom of these debates once and for all, we reached out to Marianne H. Gravely, a senior technical information specialist at the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA. Here, she points out 11 things you should really throw away ASAP.

Your sponge

Maybe you’re microwaving or boiling it to remove germs, but as Gravely notes, it&aposs really hard to clean a sponge: "It’s got all those holes in it," she says. "Even in these studies they did where they boiled them, there will still pathogens there.”

The USDA recommends replacing your dish sponge 𠇏requently,” but Gravely herself doesn’t use them at all. A washcloth is her cleaning agent of choice, because it “won’t hold on to things like a sponge will.” You could also use paper towels, but for environmentally=conscious folks, that’s not an option. If you do choose a washcloth, change it up often Gravely swaps hers out every couple of days, and adds, “If it smells, it needs washing, whether it’s a sponge or a washcloth.”

One caveat? “If you’re cooking, and you’ve got [raw meat] that’s leaked on your counter, that’s when you want to use a paper towel and throw it away.”

Leftovers you don't remember cooking

Spot leftovers in the back of the fridge that you don’t remember putting there? Your best bet is to toss them. “Use cooked food or leftovers after three to four days,” says Gravely. “If you have no memory of serving it, it’s been there too long. And for heaven’s sake, if you see mold, don’t eat it.” She recommends the USDA 𠇏oodKeeper” app so you can set calendar reminders for freezing (or eating) your leftovers.

Snowy freezer items

If that Tupperware in the freezer is so crystallized it conjures a Disney film, it’s time to let it go. Gravely says that, assuming you handled the food correctly during prep and refrigeration, bacteria aren&apost the issue. But if you see “lots of ice crystals, lots of snow, or it’s really dry-looking and you can’t tell what it is, it’s not going to taste very good.”

Expired or separated condiments

Who among us hasn’t held on to a bottle of Sriracha long past its �st used by” date? “Sometimes we buy sauces for special recipes and then never use them again,” Gravely points out. But there&aposs no good reason to keep expired condiments. “Take a look if they’re starting to separate, they’re probably no good. If they don’t look right, you probably don’t want to keep them anymore.”

Baking powder that doesn&rsquot work

Baking powder is arguably more likely to lose its oomph than baking soda, because it is not purely sodium bicarbonate, as baking soda is. (It also includes an acid, such as cream of tartar, and a moisture-absorber like cornstarch.) If yours has a shockingly old date stamped on it, test it! The New Food Lover’s Companion recommends combining a teaspoon with 1/3 cup of hot water, and “if it bubbles enthusiastically, it’s fine.”

Open cartons of broth

Pre-made chicken and vegetable broths in cardboard containers can have surprisingly short viability timelines. Often recipes will call for just half a cup, notes Gravely. For the rest, 𠇎ither make yourself a note—‘I’m gonna make soup’—or freeze it.”

Old spices

Sources vary on this front, but most—including Graves𠅊gree that spices lose their potency and flavor after about a year. (Hopefully you’ve Marie Kondo� your spices and labeled them!) Spring is a smart time to take a closer look at what&aposs in your cupboard. “It’s not a safety issue at all,” adds Gravely. “Most dry goods, the fact that they’re dry allows them to last a long time." (Peanut butter is the one exception, she notes, since it could go rancid.)

Egg yolks or whites

Anyone who loves fresh egg whites in cocktails, or those who use yolks but not whites in their cooking, pay attention: You can save both in the freezer, but you should do so quickly. Gravely recommends that you use or freeze them within 24 hours. Though the USDA site says that yolks 𠇍on’t freeze well,” Gravely is a big fan of Avgolemeno, the Greek egg-lemon soup, and saves yolks in her freezer for making the recipe.

Your scratched-up cutting board

“It doesn’t matter if it’s wooden or plastic,” says Gravely. “If there are a lot of cracks in it, it’s time to throw it out.” Bacteria love to live in deep grooves, and it’s hard to properly clean items that are full of them. So whether it’s a rolling pin, wooden spoon, or cutting board, toss it!

Scratched nonstick pans

Once a nonstick pan has a deep scratch, it&aposs no longer nonstick, Gravely points out. Teflon-coated pans can be problematic, too, because when they&aposre heated to too high a degree, they give off fumes that can trigger flu-like symptoms.

Meat that smells off

You know to buy and cookmeat before its use-by date. But if you can smell the meat through the package, or it doesn’t smell right after it’s been out of the packaging for a few minutes and has drained off some juices, don’t take the chance. As Graves says, “If it smells bad, it’s going to taste bad, too.” (And you might end up with a case of food poisoning.) Let common sense guide the way on this one𠅊nd on all other decisions you make when it comes to food safety.

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If You Have This in Your Fridge, Get Rid of It Right Now

Multiple products are have been found to be potentially contaminated with E. coli, authorities warn.

Dragon Images / Shutterstock

A balanced diet full of fresh vegetables is important for maintaining a healthy body and immune system at all times, but especially in the current pandemic. However, romaine lettuce has become one vegetable we need to be extra careful of lately, as numerous reports of E. coli contamination have emerged in 2020. In fact, four recalls have been issued in relation to various lettuce products just this month, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read on for the lettuces that could be making you and your family sick, and need to be disposed of, and for more items in your kitchen that could be dangerous, check out If You Have This Common Ingredient in Your Pantry, Throw It Away Now.

Dole / FDA

Dole had to warn consumers about two products, the first being their Dole Organic Romaine Hearts, which come three in a bag. A specific strain of E. coli—pathogenic non-O157 E.coli STEC—showed up in a routine sample at a retail store by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The romaine, along with Dole's other recalled lettuce you'll read about next, was distributed in Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Virginia.

"There is no indication at this time that this positive result is related to any illnesses nor consumer complaints," the FDA says in their report of the recalled lettuce, which is marked with the UPC 0-71430-90061-1 and harvested-on dates of Oct. 23 and Oct. 26. And for another food recall that should be on your radar, check out If You Have This Milk in Your Fridge, You Should Get Rid of It Now.

Dole /FDA

The other Dole lettuce recall is among the 12 oz. bags of Wild Harvest Organic Romaine Hearts with the UPC 7-11535-50201-2 and harvested-on dates of Oct. 23 and Oct. 26. If you're looking at your bag, the UPC code is on the bottom right back corner and the harvested-on sticker is on the upper right front corner.

While both Dole lettuces are unlikely to still be on the shelves of grocery stores at this point, you should check your refrigerator. If you find any of the affected batches, the FDA warns that you "should not consume it, but rather discard it." And for more regular updates on all things retail and your safety, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Fresh Express / FDA

Fresh Express had to issue a similar recall notice after a different strain of E. coli—STEC 026showed up in their Fresh Express Kit Caesar Supreme salad kits. While the FDA's alert stressed that no illnesses have been reported, and the expired use-by date of Nov. 8 would make them unlikely to be available for purchase now, they may still be in consumers' homes. "The recall is being executed out of an abundance of caution," the FDA states.

The E. coli showed up during testing of a randomly selected pack of the salad kit. The warning applies to the 10.5 oz kit with product code S296 and UPC 0-7127930104-4. The salad was distributed across 16 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. And for another recall to know about, check out This Common Household Item Has Been Recalled Over Fire Risk.

Tanimura & Antle / FDA

On Nov. 6, the FDA posted a voluntary recall notice from Tanimura & Antle on their bagged single head romaine lettuce. E. coli was discovered among the product during tests in the state of Michigan, and traced to a Walmart in Comstock.

The truth is E. coli is a mostly harmless bacteria that lives naturally in our intestines to keep our guts healthy. However, the strain of E. coli found in the Tanimura & Antle lettuce was 0157:H7, one of the most likely strains of the bacteria to produce haemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, a kind of kidney failure that can make the bacteria fatal.

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), 5 to 10 percent of patients with this strain of E. coli go on to develop HUS. The tell-tale symptoms are a decreased frequency of urination, extreme lethargy, and a loss of color in the cheeks and lower eyelids. Children under the age of five, adults over 65, and anyone with a compromised immune system are more likely to develop this kind of serious illness. The FDA advises, "If consumers are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact your physician."

Walmart posted a list of all stores that sold the Tanimua & Angle lettuce, spanning 19 states and Puerto Rico. It is believed that the recall applies to 3,396 packs of lettuce, packaged on Oct. 15 or Oct. 16. The UPC on the affected bags of lettuce is 0-27918-20314-9. And if you're getting cozy as the temperatures drop, beware that If You Bought This From Amazon, You Should Stop Using It Immediately.

This stuff can’t be recycled curbside -- it has to be dropped off at special recycling facilities. However, some big-box retailers like Best Buy have free recycling kiosks for electrical cords and cables

According to the Huffington Post, a bra might only last up to eight months. Bras in fairly good shape can be donated to women’s shelters or, believe it or not, recycled. The Bra Recyclers, a textile recycling company, says that although 95 percent of worn or torn textiles can be recycled, only 15 percent actually get recycled. Sign up with the company and it will send out a label to mail in your tired old bras -- and you’ll do something nice for Mother Earth.

8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now - Recipes

I grew up in a house with a mother who would save the last half a pancake and refrigerate a tablespoon of leftover tuna salad in a Tupperware container…

And when she wasn’t looking, my dad would throw all of those odds and ends away. I somehow inherited both of these instincts: The pull (neuroses?) to declutter, and the aversion to waste of any kind. Never is this more in play than when I clean out the vegetable drawer in anticipation of a new grocery shop and uncover, say, a bunch of half-liquefied cilantro, and over the years, I’ve come up with a few recipes that salvage the produce and redeem the person who (almost) forgot about them.

Before I get to that punch list, though, I’d like to make a case for the orphaned vegetable bin, something I’ve gotten into only over the last year. It sits on the most visible shelf of my refrigerator and even if I have only two layers of a red onion or a quarter of a small eggplant, I’ll toss it in there. It’s much less likely I’ll forget about a vegetable if it’s in my line of vision (and not hiding in a produce bag in the crisper) and when the bin is filled, so many gold-spinning opportunities present themselves. Such as…

Vegetable Stock or Consommé
Since I’ve amped up plant-based cooking in my house, homemade vegetable stock is by far my most favorite use for produce on its last legs. Add carrots, onions, celery, herbs (like thyme, parsley), and mushrooms to a soup pot, cover with water, add salt, pepper, and a few plugs of olive oil and simmer for an hour or up to 3 hours. I do find that adding mushrooms makes a huge difference here in terms of depth and I taste it when they’re missing. (If you have only mushrooms, clean them, then simmer in water on the stovetop for three hours to make the most delicious vegetarian consommé.)

Vegetable Hash with an Egg or in a Quesadilla
For a weekday hot lunch or a solo dinner, I sauté onions in olive oil with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, then add whatever wilted (or not wilted) veggies I’ve got. The lunch shown way up top is finely chopped bok choy, mushrooms, red cabbage, and graffiti eggplant. Once the hash is in the bowl, I drizzle in a little soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, top with a fried egg and some chili oil. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but those same vegetables can be spread out on a tortilla, sprinkled with cheese, and fried up for a quesadilla. (Or for one of those TikTok tortillas!)

Green Sauces
If the produce in question involves leafy herbs — cilantro, parsley, basil, tarragon, dill — you can blitz them in a mini food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, capers (if you have them) and drizzle the resulting green sauce on top of roast meats or vegetables, or use like pesto and dollop into a homemade salad dressing.

Fruit Crisp or Galette
As outlined many times on this website, I almost look forward to discovering apples (or berries or stone fruits) with wrinkly skins so I can toss them with sugar and lemon juice, and either wrap them up in a pie dough or bake them with a sugary crumb top.

Fruit Compote
If you don’t have the bandwidth for a baking project, you can just as easily add that fruit (peeled and chopped if using apples or stone fruits) to a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and simmer it into a fruit compote. Use it on top of Sunday morning’s pancakes, waffles or French toast.

Chopped Salad
Since this salad is all about the crunch factor, it’s a better solution for the problem: I have a little left of everything, what do I do with it? (Biting into a flaccid carrot is no one’s idea of fun or tasty.) The best vegetables for this: Bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, and cabbage. If you can, add a chopped avocado for a luscious-ness factor and toss with a simple, clean vinaigrette. To flesh out for dinner: Add a can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) and let sit at least one hour to allow flavors to meld.

Roast Vegetable Dips
I learned this trick from Healthy-ish a few years ago: Roast almost any vegetable (sweet potatoes, cauliflower, beets) whirl it with tahini, yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil, and you’ll have spreads that are delicious enough to serve for company (when we’re allowed to have company again!) or spread on toast for a quick healthy lunch. (Shown above, Sweet Potato-Tahini, Cauliflower, Beets-Horseradish)

19 things you should throw away immediately

There are few experiences more satisfying than throwing away junk you don't need.

No, that shiny Apple box will never be useful, and it's better off recycled than sitting in the back of your closet. And no, you're never going to peruse those old issues of Cosmo. Just let them go.

Pare your life down to the essentials. Here are 19 things you should throw away.

Wire hangers

The cheap wire hangers your shirts are on when you get them back from the dry cleaners are bad for your clothes. They'll warp the fabric and sprinkle them with rust. Buy wooden, felt, or firm plastic hangers instead.

Worn out shoes

Are they broken? Throw them out. Still good but you haven't worn them in forever? Donate.

Donate old shoes at a local charity or an international one like Soles4Souls.

Empty alcohol bottles

You're not in college anymore, and those bottles of fancy bourbon are not a trophy collection, unless if you live in a frat house.

You can find a nearby recycling center at Recycle Finder.

Clothing you've never worn

Donate. Someone less fortunate than you could be wearing them. Same goes for children's clothing and Halloween costumes that can't be used as hand-me-downs.

You can find a local donation bin at Planet Aid.

Toys can be expensive. If they're not broken but no one in your family will use them, donate them — whether it's to charity or relatives with young children.

If you're not sure where to donate them, look into DonationTown, a charity that accepts used toys.

Lonesome socks

I used to keep a basket of single socks with the missing pair on top of my washing machine, hoping each one's spouse would show up. It's better to just let them go.

Expired makeup

It will mess up your face. Toss 'em out. Same goes for unused makeup samples.

Expired medication

No, you don't need those Motrin capsules "just in case." They expired in 2015.

And no, you probably shouldn't just toss them into the trash. Here's how to make sure you recycle medications safely.

Your toothbrush

You should be replacing your toothbrush every few months, once the bristles are frayed.

Or try a smart toothbrush.

Stuff in your fridge

You know very well what I'm talking about. You can't just leave it in there. Throw it in the trash. Use shopping bags as gloves if you have to.

Just a heads up, most expiration dates are wrong — here's how long your food will last.

Old grocery bags

. and also toss out the rest of your plastic shopping bag collection.

And maybe switch to tote bags from now on.

CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes

It's 2017. Rip them to a hard drive and save some space on your shelves.

Dish cleaning sponges

Your dish sponges are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Wash them often, and replace them every couple of weeks.

Water filters

Water filter cartridges should be replaced every few months, depending on the model, or when you notice your water tastes funny.

Old business cards

No one will ever need your business card for a company you worked for five years ago, or for a position you previously held at your company.

And make sure to bring your new ones to Japan.

Old phone chargers

You'll never need to charge your 2004 Motorola Razr. We live in the smartphone era now.

If you need a portable charger, here's what we recommend.

Old magazines

So yes, maybe Rivka Galchen's profile of theoretical physicist David Deutsch has lasting literary value, but it's not the kind of value that accrues by sitting on your coffee table for three years.

Old magazines can also be used for DIY projects.

Old socks and underwear

If they have more holes than they should have, toss them our and buy new ones.

Old bills and receipts

If anything is actually important, scan it or take a photo and keep it in an organized folder on your computer.