Avoiding food-borne illness is your first priority when you refrigerate, freeze, or store food, though keeping things fresh and tasty is important, too. The No. 1 rule of food safety: When in doubt, throw it out.
Food Safety and Storage Basics
When it comes to food safety, there are two things to be aware of: pathogenic bacteria, the invisible culprits in food-borne illnesses, and spoilage, the very visible rot that causes food to look, taste, and smell bad. The right food storage can help prevent both.
Start by looking for safety dates on foods. There is no national system for dating foods in the United States, and only 20 states mandate some form of food dating, so the date you see on products like milk and meat is not necessarily a safety date, though it’s a good guideline.