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11 Things in Your Refrigerator You Should Toss Out

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No more guessing

Ever feel like you’re playing a game of Russian roulette when scanning your fridge and trying to determine what’s OK to eat and what’s past its prime? You’re not alone. Apart from doing the old sniff test, spotting mold, and checking expiration dates, assessing what to toss in your kitchen can be a great, big mystery. “Most people are totally confused when they look in their refrigerator and try to decide whether to use the opened Caesar salad dressing or throw it out and [when generally] deciding what’s safe and what isn’t,” says B. Susie Craig, professor of Food Safety and Health at Washington State University Extension in Seattle. “Sometimes it’s confusing to me, and I’m a professional.” Add in the “Does this even need refrigeration in the first place?” conundrum, and the plot thickens.There’s good reason for the confusion, says Don Schaffner, PhD, professor of Food Microbiology at Rutgers University, who explains that there’s a big difference between spoilage organisms (which are in many foods and will eventually cause them to look, smell, or taste bad) and pathogens (which you may not be able to see but can make you sick). “Expiration dates are not an exact science,” he says. “Food companies use a value that they think will ensure happy customers, but it’s not like the food ‘magically’ turns bad at midnight on the date in question.”(Related: How to Marie Kondo Your Fridge for Better Eating)

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