This robust infographic came across our radar today, and we're glad to pass along the mashup of everyday food storage practices for the benefit of restaurant owners, commercial refrigeration folk, and homeowners.
The Shelf Life of Food infographic by LindsaySnowOsborn.
Infographics (much like a research study, informative piece, or expose for example) are only as accurate and useful as the provided sources for the information. This infographic uses excellent sources for everyday food storage, such as the USDA, FDA, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. A handful of active interweb discussions are crying foul on a few of the details that are embedded in the chart. Since these are everyday food items, we should recognize the homeowners, chefs, and individual organizations as other sources of insight to support these findings.
In particular, the eggs have garnered a bit of controversy. Readers and viewers from social media have claimed that "eggs do not spoil within a few hours" when stored in a pantry. In all, this mainly depends on the temperature configuration for the pantry. In a cooled, 'refrigerated' pantry, eggs can last for several weeks. However, eggs are tricky because of their sensitivity to humidity and higher temperatures. If eggs are sold refrigerated (as in most supermarkets), any exposure to higher temperatures can be problematic. We'll quote EggSafety.org as a reference point,
"Maintaining a consistent, cool temperature is critical to safety. After eggs are refrigerated, it is important that they stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than two hours."
And in regard to the 3-4 week storage in a refrigerated environment,
"As long are they are kept refrigerated at 45 °F or lower, fresh shell eggs are safe to be consumed four to five weeks beyond the carton’s Julian date. Egg cartons with the USDA grademark must display a “Julian date,”* the date the eggs were packed. The Julian date is usually found on the short side of the carton and represents the consecutive days of the year with the number 001 as January 1 and December 31 as 365. Although not required, cartons may also carry an expiration date (EXP) beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grademark, this date cannot exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grademark are governed by the laws of their states."
It's clear that temperature control is a primary concern for everyday food storage, particularly with eggs. The overall sensitivity is higher than in most foods, and for commercial refrigeration purposes, egg-storage environments must be strictly monitored and supervised. If you have environments where eggs are stored, be sure to log temperatures (at least twice daily) through the use of a temperature monitoring device or sensor.
We'd love to hear your own comments on the food storage chart based on your own experience or expertise. Remember, always dispute the undisputed.
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