To bin or not to bin: how to tell if your food has gone bad

Food poisoning — we’ve all been there before. Hugging our porcelain thrones, cosplaying the Merlion perfectly, and releasing explosive excretory bombs. It’s not exactly the cleansing detox diet that anybody would want.

In order to prevent such an unfortunate situation from happening again, however, apart from making sure that all your food is thoroughly cooked before consumption, here’s how to make sure that the food is safe to even be cooked in the first place, aka if they have (really) expired or not.

  1. One for all, all for one

If you find mold on a piece of bread, toss the whole loaf away. Don’t cry that it’s “a waste of money” because the others are “perfectly fine”, trust us. Bread is porous, and the tiny microscopic spores of the mold can spread easily throughout the entire loaf, which can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems in some people. A dollar or so is not worth the risk and hefty medical bill you’ll have to pay when you’re at the doctor’s hours later.

  1. Slime is always a no-go

Whether it’s on fish, raw meat, or sliced deli meat like ham and salami, a sticky, slimy feel is never a good sign. A very distinctive tell-tale sign that it has gone bad would be a foul odour, but in any case, should you be having a blocked nose, you can’t go wrong with feeling it out (pun intended).

  1. Fruits and vegetables cannot be softies

Unless you’re having a smoothie, no fruit or vegetable should be mushy or grainy. Other telling signs include discolouring, funky smells, mold, and wrinkly skin that is peeling away. It’s alright to consume after simply cutting away the spoilt parts though, if possible, unless the entire fruit or vegetable is just one lump of mush barely holding it together.

  1. When dairy is no longer dandy

When it comes to milk, yoghurt and cheese that has gone bad, look out for a pungent, sour smell and/or taste (spit it out immediately if that’s the case). Milk and yoghurt after opening can be kept for a week after the printed expiry date if refrigerated properly, but when milk becomes somewhat yoghurt-like, and yoghurt becomes somewhat cheese-like in consistency, chances are what you’re thinking is right — it has spoiled. If you spot non-white mold in a soft cheese like Brie, or non-blue in Blue Cheese, chuck the whole thing into a bin; if you spot mold on a hard cheese, then just cut the moldy part off and you’re good to go.

  1. When your canned food cannot do

While canned foods may seem contamination-proof with extremely long shelf lives, they can spoil too, if the metal has been corroded and the can has not been stored in a cool and dry place. Cans with lids that bulge and can be pressed down on, have rust on them, or are leaking or dented are usually goners, possibly contaminated with bacteria like Clostridium botulinum which causes botulism – it can paralyze and even kill you with just a small amount consumed. When opened, rising bubbles, unnatural looking colours, pungent smells and a loud hiss escaping from the can are tell-tale signs of bacterial presence, and that the contents have gone bad.

By: Chan Choy Yu


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