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How long should leftovers stay in the fridge?

Living
 The basic rule is that you should never eat food past seven days [Dreamstime]

If you’ve ever eaten questionable leftovers after they’ve been in the fridge for a long time and never gotten sick you need to be thanking God. For those of us who risked it quite a number of times and had leftovers that had been at the back of the fridge for days, maybe even weeks, didn’t have a happy ending.

And the reason why this keeps happening is because most of us don’t really know the specific number of days we should have leftovers in the fridge before consuming or throwing it out. The basic test is to try and remember how long it’s been in there, then smell it if there are any funny odors.

From microbiologists’ perspectives, we should be stricter on how long we store leftovers. Food that has already been cooked creates the perfect environment for illness-causing bacteria to thrive.

The basic rule is that you should never eat food past seven days. And actually, most are safe to eat up to day four.

To understand this better, let us break it down.

Which food are you storing?

Some foods are able to stay fresher for a longer period of time as compared to others. Those that can rapidly multiply bacteria are a big hazard and should be thrown out sooner.

One big one that isn’t safe past day two is seafood. Seafood tends to spoil faster and although you could continue to store it up for up to three or four days, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t get sick.

How long has it been on the counter?

Sometimes when we finish cooking, we leave the food on the counter or on the cooker for hours before storing. This might seem harmless but it is very dangerous.

The longer cooked food stayed out of the fridge, the greater the risk of bacterial growth. If it’s been sitting in room temperature for more than two hours, it should be discarded. But, if you live in a humid area, store quickly within an hour.

To avoid wasting food every time or risk sickness, make sure you observe this rule.

 Some foods are able to stay fresher for a longer period of time as compared to others [Shutterstock]

Do you have airtight containers?

Avoid storing your food in its original container. It exposes it to contamination and, it doesn’t help keep the food fresher. Therefore, invest in some good airtight containers that you can be preserving your food in.

Is your fridge cool enough?

You also need to make sure your fridge is set to the ideal temperature for your food to last longer. Make sure that it is cool enough and in case your fridge is faulty, you will probably need to consume any leftovers faster.

Things to note:

To make it easier, put labels every time you store food in the fridge. It’s often easy to forget the exact date when you put food in there so this would help avoid any confusion.

Also, if you’re not sure you will be able to eat your leftovers within four days, simply put them in the freezer right away. The flavor might not be as rich over time but, it will still last longer in there as compared to the fridge.

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