Food wastage is a huge issue across the world. However, there are easy ways to avoid it. The most important first step is to learn how to spot spoiled food in the supermarket and skip it. Next, you want to know how to monitor food before it goes bad at home, so you can use your trusty cookware to whip up healthy meals instead of letting things go to waste.
To help you make the most out of your groceries and avoid contributing to the global food waste problem, here are six tips for spotting spoiled food:
Is The Packaging Damaged?
Dented or swollen cans show that the item has been dropped or damaged, which could be a warning sign that the contents have spoiled. If you open a can and there are visible bubbles, this is another sign gases have been released and the food is not safe to eat.
Does It Look Right?
For foods like meat and mushrooms, a film, odd shine, or discoloration could mean they are dangerous to eat. With others, though – like apples and avocados – it is often still safe to eat the discolored food item because the browning has only occurred through oxidation.
Is There Visible Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows on spoiling food items. It can look like grey, black, blue, green, or white fluff. Mold can trigger all sorts of health problems, and unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot.
You can cut the mold off certain items, like processed cheese, firm veggies like carrots, and hard cured meats. The advice is usually to cut around the moldy section, starting about half an inch away from the mold. Whether you’re happy to do this or not is down to individual choice, and if in doubt, it is always best to be cautious so that you don’t get sick.
Do Your Eggs Float?
Cracking open a rotten egg is a truly hideous experience. So, if you feel like the eggs might be a bit old, try putting them in water to see if they float or not. If they do, they are going off – do not crack them open! If they sink, however, they should still be fresh enough to eat.
Is There A Bad Or Unusual Smell?
A bad smell can be a sign that groceries have spoiled. Milk, for example, is known for being foul-smelling when it has gone off.
Sometimes, though, a strong food smell isn’t a bad thing. For example, bananas start to show brown spots and give off esters (in particular, isoamyl acetate) as they age. This is the banana signaling to animals, insects, and you that it is time to be eaten.
Is The Texture Different?
With drinks like milk, if it has gone lumpy or thick, then it is totally spoiled and needs to be thrown out. However, if a bell pepper is a little wrinkly or a carrot is a little soft, but there are no signs of mold, it could be that the food simply needs to be used ASAP. There are lots of recipes to follow for veggies and fruit that are reaching the end of their lives. Search for recipes that call for the ingredients you have on hand, and you’ll be all set.
In general, if you’re ever unsure about the safety of a food item, seek advice or avoid it altogether. Best of all, work to buy little and often, freeze, preserve, and store well to keep the food that you do buy as fresh as possible. You’ll be doing wonders for your cooking, your grocery bills, and the environment.