March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Have you ever wondered how long dairy and egg products can be safely stored, what type of milk container to buy or how to handle raw eggs? The next time you go grocery shopping or clean out your refrigerator, use the tips below.
- Buy milk and other dairy products toward the end of your shopping trip.
- Store milk and other dairy products in the refrigerator below 40°F, but never store milk in the refrigerator door where it is susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
- Discard all kinds of milk (whole, low-fat, reduced fat, non-fat, etc.) after one week of opening, no matter what the "sell-by" date is.
- Ice cream has a shelf life of two to four months because it is stored in the freezer where bacterial growth is significantly slowed due to the colder temperatures. If you make homemade ice cream, be sure to use pasteurized eggs.
- Choose milk in cardboard cartons or non-translucent jugs.
- Tightly wrap hard cheeses such as cheddar, Gouda, Edam and Swiss and they can last for three to four weeks in the refrigerator after opening.
- Remove mold from hard cheeses by cutting a one-inch square around it; the rest is safe to eat if only a small area was affected.
- Processed cheese spread can keep for three to four weeks in the refrigerator after being opened.
- Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should not eat unpasteurized cheeses or soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and blue-veined cheeses.
- The softer the cheese, the shorter the shelf life:
- Cream cheese can last for two weeks
- Cottage cheese can last for one week.
- Ricotta cheese can last for one week.
- Never eat raw eggs (this includes raw cookie dough and batters, too).
- When buying eggs, choose a carton that is cold and make sure the eggs are clean and aren't broken or cracked.
- Store eggs in the original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the egg cups in the door.
- Raw eggs should not be kept for more than three weeks in the refrigerator. Hard-boiled eggs can last a week in the refrigerator (in or out of the shell).
- If a recipe calls for raw eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing, use a liquid pasteurized egg substitute instead of raw eggs.
- Cook eggs until yolks are firm (yolks should not be runny).
- Cook egg dishes such as quiche or casseroles to 160°F.
- Check the "sell-by" date on the carton.
- Use yogurt within seven to 10 days after buying it.