Food Tips Hero

Help us prevent food waste.

You might be throwing hundreds of dollars’ worth of food in the trash! Save money and prevent food waste by learning more about shelf life.

The Shelf Life Guide

Food insecurity in our community is not caused by food scarcity. While an estimated 1.4 million of our neighbors struggle with food insecurity, 30-40% of the food supply goes to waste.

By following the information in this Shelf Life Guide, you can reduce food waste in your daily life which will help keep perfectly good food out of landfills.

DECODING DATE CODES

EXPIRATION DATE

FOUND ON baby food, formula, medicines, vitamins, yeast, baking powder.

WHAT IT MEANS Do NOT distribute or use after the expiration date! Yeast and baking powder work less well, but are safe to eat.

Expiration Date Label
Pack Date Label

PACK DATE

FOUND ON Canned foods, crackers, cookies, spices.

WHAT IT MEANS This is the date the food was packaged, often displayed in a numerical code. Usually this food is of good quality and safe to eat for a long time past the date.

SELL BY

FOUND ON Refrigerated foods such as milk, yogurt, eggs, lunch meat.

WHAT IT MEANS The store must sell these foods before the code date listed. If the food has been handled properly it is still safe to eat and the quality is good.

Sell By Label
Use By Label

USE BY

FOUND ON Crackers, cookies, cold cereals and other dry, shelf stable food.

WHAT IT MEANS The manufacturer’s recommendation for how long the food will be at peak quality. After this date, the food is still safe to eat but begins to lose nutrients and quality.

PROPER STORAGE PRACTICES

Most fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated. It helps them last longer. And it usually makes them taste better. However, there are some exceptions.

PRODUCE

Tomatoes taste best if they’re not refrigerated. Cold storage can cause them to become grainy.

Tomatoes
Bananas

Bananas should not be refrigerated unless they’re fully ripe. And then they should be used within one or two days. Refrigeration will cause the banana’s skin to blacken, but the fruit will not ripen while cold.

Apples, mangoes and stone fruits (plums, peaches, etc.) can be stored at room temperature If they are very fresh. These items should be refrigerated as they ripen.

Apples
Onions

Hardy vegetables like onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash can be stored in cool, dark places (instead of in the refrigerator's cooler section.)

DRY STORAGE

Temperature should be between 50° - 70°F.

Rotate stock so that older foods are distributed first.

Dry Storage
Refrigerator

REFRIGERATOR

Temperature should be between 32°F - 40°F.

Set the refrigerator's air temperature at 39° F to maintain internal temperature of food at 41° F.

Leave space for air to circulate between items.

FREEZER

Temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).

Freezer can be as cold as -20° F if you have something like ice cream in it.

Freezer

TIPS ON STORING DRY GOODS

Store cans and boxes off the floor and 18 inches away from the wall.

Canned and boxed goods should be stored in a clean, dry and cool area (below 85° F).

Extremely hot (over 100° F) and cold (below 30° F) temperatures can damage canned goods and make them go bad.

Always rotate your stock. Use older products before newer ones.

Tips on storing dry foods
Boxes

TIPS ON STORING BOXES

Discard boxes with an inside bag when the bag is torn or leaking, has moldy or foreign objects inside, and/or its seals are ripped.

Discard boxes without an inside bag when the box is open, torn, stained and/or wet.

TIPS ON STORING CANS & JARS

Discard cans and jars when they are badly dented, rusty/cracked, leaking and or stained. Also throw away cans and jars if their seals are broken or missing and/or their lids are loose/missing. Cans and jars should always be tossed in the trash if the the food inside has changed color or has an odor – never taste suspicious foods!

Cans & Jars
Address
6735 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp. NJ 08234
609-383-8843 https://cfbnj.org/
Address
31 Evans Terminal, Hillside NJ 07205
908-355-3663 https://cfbnj.org/
Address
1501 John Tipton Boulevard, Pennsauken, NJ 08110
856-662-4884 https://foodbanksj.org/
Address
824 Silvia Street, Ewing, NJ 08628
609-406-0503 https://mercerstreetfriends.org/
Address
201 N. Broad Street, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
908-454-4322 https://norwescap.org/
Address
350 Marshall Street Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
908-454-7000 https://norwescap.org/

Reach out to your local food bank

Contact a local food bank to learn which foods are most in demand. Get tips and toolkits on how to start your own food drives.

Make a difference now

It's easy to create a fundraiser, share it with friends and reach your goal for the food bank of your choice.
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