Keeping Convenience Foods Safe

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN
canned foods


Keeping Your Convenience Foods Safe

People are turning to convenience foods such as canned foods, frozen foods and prepared salads to fill their plates at dinnertime instead of preparing meals from scratch. Below are tips to help you purchase and store convenience foods safely.

Deli Meats

  • Use poultry products purchased from the deli counter within 3 days of purchase and use red meat deli products within 5 to 7 days of purchase.
  • At-risk consumers (pregnant women, older adults, babies and people with weakened immune systems) should consult their medical practitioners for advice on consuming deli meats.
  • For best quality, always reheat hot dogs before eating.

Pre-Prepared Foods

  • If eating from a salad bar, go early or ask for fresh batches of the items.
  • Make sure items like egg salad, macaroni salad and potato salad are properly refrigerated below 40°F.
  • Check to make sure containers are well-packed in ice.
  • Reheat precooked foods such as stuffed chicken breasts and pre-roasted chickens, and eat them the same day you purchase them.

Canned Foods

  • Avoid buying canned goods that show signs of bulging, denting or leaking.
  • Throw away any canned goods in your pantry with similar signs of bulging, denting or leaking.
  • Store canned goods in a cool, dry place - not above the oven or under the sink.
  • As a general rule, canned goods can be kept up to 12 months unopened.
  • Clean cans before opening to avoid contamination of contents.

Frozen Foods

  • Choose frozen foods, such as frozen dinners or vegetables, from the back of the freezer case; the items in the back usually remain the coldest.
  • Keep frozen foods tightly wrapped and date them.
  • Store at 0°F or below.
  • Don't refreeze thawed food items. 

Dried or Cured Meats

  • Don't buy hanging dried or cured meat if the package is open.
  • An unopened package of dried meat will keep for up to one year without refrigeration.
  • Refrigerate dried or cured meats after opening.

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