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"When Good Food Goes Bad"

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"Now You're Cookin' " is a new monthly cooking column by Virginia Willis, food stylist for "The Main Ingredient." Virginia has joined the Lifetime team to help us cook a little smarter, a little faster and a little richer!
This month, Virginia shows you how to make sure your food doesn't "spoil" you!
You probably find it hard to believe that the foods you eat could ever pose any harm to you. And many foods in your fridge can withstand a slight change in temperature or an extended life in the larder.
But with the right blend of storage smarts and know-how, you're well on your way to a healthy fridge and pantry!
Let's look at what you should keep an eye, and nose, on in the world of condiments, produce, poultry and beef:
It's unadvisable to eat raw eggs. (Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems should never eat raw eggs.) Eat eggs within 3-4 weeks after the "Sell By" date. Refrigerate them, and don't buy cracked ones.
Milk, if kept in a cold refrigerator (34 F to 40 F), can last up to a week after the “Sell By” date. But use your head: if it smells bad or looks bad, get rid of it! When in doubt, throw it out!
Yogurt, like milk, should always be kept in a cold refrigerator, and should be eaten within two weeks after purchase. Keep the rim and edges clean. And don't use dirty utensils -- no "double dipping"!
Refrigerate cheese until you're ready to use it. You may take cheese out a half-hour or so before eating so it can get used to room temperature. Properly sealed cheeses can keep between 2-3 weeks after purchase.
Chicken, turkey and other poultry should be cooked thoroughly until an internal temperature of 165 F is reached. Keep work areas clean, and wash your utensils and hands after touching raw poultry.
Keep beef and fish cold, and eat soon after purchase. Don't use the same cutting board to cut raw meat. Keep shellfish alive until cooked. Whole fish should have clear eyes and red gills.
Keep pasta in its original container or in an airtight container. Pasta will last up to one year. If you see any mealy-like substance, throw it out.
While some people keep flour in the freezer, I suggest an airtight container. Don't keep flour above the stove, since it can easily go rancid because of the heat.
Keep bread in the bag of purchase or a sealable plastic bag. Let warm bread cool to room temperature before sealing. Some breads harden faster than others, depending on fat content. If moldy, throw out!
Often, grocery produce isn't ripe to begin with. Soft fruits (bananas, melons, etc.) can ripen quickly and should be thrown out within a week of purchase. Firmer fruits and vegetables will last about two weeks.If soft or bruised -- out!
Dented canned goods are potentially very dangerous. Otherwise, canned goods can last for years. Transfer remaining contents to another container, seal, and refrigerate it. And use leftovers within the next few days.
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Recipe by: Virginia Willis
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