Special Report: Expired Food and Products. When Should You Toss Things?

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Most people keep left overs in the fridge longer than they're supposed to, but how long is too long? Health officials say common sense can be the best test.

"If you don't feel comfortable eating that food, throw it away," Sal Garcia with the Midland Health Department said.

The Midland Health Department says it all depends on how well the food was cooked to begin with and how it's stored.

"During this time, people are having parties. The most important is the temperature of the ice box. If it's 45 degrees below then left overs are good for 4 days," Garcia said.

Keeping red meats and chicken stored in your freezer longer than four days is something we probably all do, but it can cause you harm in the long run.

"They can grow many types of bacteria, but the most common are salmonella and they can cause pretty bad diarrhea that needs to be treated with anitbiotics, you can't get over it on your own. Some have even died from eating meat that's gone bad," Tiffany Locke of Courtyard Primary Care, said.

Health officials say foods that are left out to thaw need to be cooked within 24-hours, or the consequences can be dangerous.

"It'll cause variations of diarrhea, vomit, and fever. The diarrhea can become bloody. It can be pretty dangerous," Locke said.

The problem doesn't just lie in foods, but your hygiene products like razors and bath sponges could be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

"If it's been used for weeks, bacteria can multiply and get you sick rather than keep you clean. It's important to change hygiene products frequently," Locke said.

The toothbrush you put in your mouth every day also needs to be tossed out sooner than you think, especially if you've been sick.

"With toothbrushes, you need to toss them out after a while. If you have influenza you're going to get it back again. Once you are ill, you need to throw it away or you'll infect yourself again," Locke said.

Whether it's the products in your bathroom, or the food in your fridge health officials say get rid of it if you're not too sure.