We have already discovered how long you can eat foods past their due date, read HERE and which foods are risky to eat past their due date, read HERE but now we are going to learn about the signs to look out for when it is time to toss your food. Although it may pain you to see food going into the trash it is definitely a better choice when it comes to your health.

It may seem quite obvious for some foods that they have turned and it’s time to throw them away but others might not be so easy. Let’s dig in together and learn about common foods and their signs that it’s time to say goodbye. Afterall taking any precautions to avoid a date with a toilet is a definite yes in my books.

1. Eggs

Eggs are a tricky food item to tell if they have taken a turn for the worst. They don’t exactly start growing fuzzy mold on the outer shell as soon as they have gone bad. In fact, the shells while they appear solid are actually kind of porous.

An easy to test to tell if your egg is fresh or has gone bad is to stick it in a glass of water (make sure it’s big enough that the whole egg will be fully submerged in water). If your egg floats in the water it is time to toss. If it sinks to the bottom and lays on it’s side, it’s fresh! If the egg sinks tout stands on one end, then it’s still good to eat, but getting older.

2. Fish

There are a few different signs you can look out for to tell if your fish has gone bad. Firstly, fish shouldn’t actually smell very fishy. If it is very potent in fish scent it might just have gone bad. It should smell like the sea but not overpowering. Your fish should also be firm in texture. Press your fingers into the fish before you cook it and if it’s squishy and soft it may not be safe to eat.

Lastly, another sign that your fish has turned, particularly in salmon is if the white lines have turned grey or have disappeared that could be another big indicator that your fish is no longer fresh and may not be safe to eat. Make sure to look out for any other discolorations in your salmon, it should be a vibrant pink/orange color. If it has patches of white or grey that could be another sign it is no longer good to eat.

3. Hot Dogs

We already know that hot dogs don’t have a long life once they’ve been stored and opened in the fridge but there are a few different signs to tell if your hot dogs have turned bad. First check their color, if they appear dull in color they might have gone bad.

Second, you can tell if they have turned by feeling them. If your hot dogs feel slimy there is a good chance there is bacteria growing on them and you should toss them away. And lastly, you can tell if they have gone bad by smelling them. If they give off a sour odour then you are not going to want to eat them.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms can be a tricky food item to tell if they have gone bad, especially so when you purchase a variety other than white mushrooms. Although they are fungus they will still go bad in your fridge and can grow unwanted bacteria.

Feel your mushrooms before you wash and prepare them. If they feel soft and slimy they are probably not deemed edible any longer. Another sign that they have turned bad is if they become discolored. As you store mushrooms overtime, even when stored properly they will get spots and shades of dark color (usually grey, black or dark brown). If these colours show up on your mushrooms you may have waited too long to use them.

5. Dairy Milk & Milk Alternatives

There are a few signs you can tell if your milk has gone bad and if you’ve experienced it you know and that memory will be with you forever-ick! If your milk changes in color that will be a sign it may have gone bad. Dairy milk should always be a bright white color so if it has turned yellow in color you may not want to drink it. Another easy give away that your milk has gone bad is if it smells sour, trust me you will know. And lastly, if your milk is thick and has chunks do not drink it is no longer safe to drink.

Dairy alternatives like almond, cashew and hemp milk can get chunky when it has gone bad, make sure to toss it if this happens. Another sign is you can find in these kinds of milk is they can become thick and slimy in texture. If you’re concerned try pouring some down the drain to test it first. Along with these kinds of milk, other milk alternatives like rice, soy and coconut milk will all show signs of foul odour if they have turned bad. If it doesn’t smell like it should get rid of it!

6. Butter And Margarine

You may be tempted to store your butter at room temperature to keep it soft and easy to spread. This is fine for a day but you shouldn’t leave your butter out for too long because the oils can go bad quickly if left out for too long. If your butter smells or tastes sour that is the easiest indicator that it has gone bad and it’s time to trash it.

Your sense of sight and sense of smell will give you the best judgment if your margarine has gone bad. First signs you can tell your margarine has gone bad if it has turned hard, dark or waxy in texture. Margarine should always appear smooth as well as soft when it is still fresh. Another indicator is if you find droplets of moisture on the top of your margarine. Spoiled margarine may start to separate and that is what would cause the moisture to rise to the top. And finally, your sense of smell will tell you if margarine has gone bad. If it smells like soap or paint or even stale popcorn those are all great indicators it is time to put your margarine in the trash.

7. Bread

Bread may show visible and easy signs when recognizing that it has gone bad. The easiest give away is mold growth, and I’m sure we have all seen it some time or another. However, it might not be commonly known but you shouldn’t just toss the piece of bread that has mold growing on it. Once mold growth starts due to the fact that bread is porous, bacteria will spread quickly and you may not be able to see it clearly but small mold spores could be forming on the rest of the loaf too.

If your bread has turned hard this is not a sign that it has gone bad just that it has gone stale. Hard bread can be turned in croutons or used for breadcrumbs or even used in dishes like stuffing.

8. Raw Meat

When it comes to signs of bad meat, common kinds like poultry, beef and pork will all show the same or very similar symptoms of going bad. Most raw meat should be vibrant in color when it is fresh. Beef is generally bright in tones of red, pork is bright in pinks and poultry is often light pink and white. As soon as any of this meat become dull in color or even turns grey it could be an indicator it isn’t fresh and not a good idea to eat.

Following, more signs of bad meat will be shown in its texture. Like other foods meat too will become slimy in texture when it is going bad. And make sure to take a whiff of your meat before you prepare it, if it has a sour smell that will be another good sign your meat is no longer fresh and it’s time to toss it.

9. Lettuce

There is nothing worse than opening your box or bag of lettuce to be blasted with an overpowering rotten smell, this would a dead give away that your lettuce has turned bad. Lettuce shouldn’t have a potent smell so make sure you toss it if it does.

Another big give away when it comes to signs that your lettuce has turned is discoloration. When lettuce has gone bad it will usually turn black or brown and become moist in texture. As soon as the leaves start to go limp you know it is on it’s way out.

10. Lunch Meat

Lunch meat doesn’t have a longevity causing it turn quickly. But do you know what to look for when your meat goes bad? A sign that your lunch meat is no longer good is if it smells rank. If you smell scents of vinegar, ammonia or even yeast those are all good signs that you shouldn’t consume the lunch meat any longer.

Another sign that your lunch meat has gone bad, similar to hot dogs is if it becomes slimy in texture or has a light film on it. And once again most obvious never eat your lunch meat if it is growing mold on it.

11. Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is one of those condiments that feel like they can last forever. Some manufacturers even claim their brand can last for possibly up to three years in the fridge even after they have been opened. It can be easy to get lost in the time frame of when you first opened your bottle. We all know what a well-loved bottle of hot sauce looks like and sometimes even the best before date gets rubbed off.

There are indeed signs to look for that your hot sauce has turned bad. Initial signs that your hot sauce is starting to go bad will be lost heat potency. If you find that your hot sauce isn’t as hot as it used to be that could be a good sign it’s on it’s way out. Further, another sign would be if you see black specks in the sauce. This may be hard to see if you use a variety that is seasoned but if your hot sauce is generally a solid color those black specks may be signs of mold colonies forming inside, you probably won’t want to use if it’s reached that stage.

12. Salad Dressings

Face it, we are all guilty of storing multiple kinds of salad dressings in our fridges at a time, having the same kind day in and day out does get boring. Keep in mind there are a few signs to look for that indicate that your salad dressing is going bad. While mold growth is again an obvious sign make sure if you see any to never use it as it can make you sick. When it comes to cream based salad dressing, if the dressing has separated it may be time to discard it. Like other dairy products, separation is a sign of curdling and that means it is no good.

While creamy based dressings are considered bad when they separate it is completely normal for a vinaigrette dressing to separate. We all know you just give it a good shake and it is good to go. So for vinaigrette based dressings look to smell as an indicator that it has gone bad if it smells off don’t use it. Further, you should never use a bloated salad dressing bottle. This is a sign of gas build up and will even show when you open the bottle. If gas is being built up inside the bottle the cap will make a popping noise when you open it, make sure to throw it out of this happens.

13. Mayonnaise

Take note of the color of your mayonnaise when you open it if you ever notice the color has changed over time this could be a good indicator that your jar of mayo has gone bad. Besides the obvious like mold growth, some discolorations may look like a darker shade of white and even a dark yellow color.

Another big give away that your mayonnaise has turned is if it is giving off an unbearable smell or even if it smells acidic. So if you’re nose turns up as soon as you open your mayo you should probably toss it away.

14. Shellfish

Eating bad shellfish can put you out for a couple days, there is nothing like being glued to the bathroom floor by eating bad food. This is why it’s so important to understand the signs of bad food as a way to prevent illness. Shellfish may include mussels, oysters, and clams and they all will show common signs if they are spoiled. First, if you are cooking them fresh tap the shell and if it remains open that means the creature inside is diseased, so don’t eat it. Further, if a shell or shells aren’t open after cooking that could be a sign they weren’t properly heated during the cooking process and shouldn’t be eaten. Another give away that shellfish have gone bad is if it gives off a strong fishy scent, they should only have a moderate smell. And last, make sure to take note of the appearance of the meat. If it is dry or is showing any discoloration it may not be safe to eat them.

Other shellfish include crab, lobster and shrimp. Make sure to pay close attention to the appearance of shrimp, it should be white and pink in color and if any discoloration is present or if the shrimp shows signs of pieces breaking off then it should be tossed away. The next time you prepare your shrimp or even if you choose to eat it raw give it a good whiff. Shrimp should have a light odour and smell slightly salty if there is any hint of an ammonia smell make sure you throw it away. The same applies to crustaceans like crab and lobster, its appearance should be intact and should smell pleasant. Frozen shellfish should not contain any hoarfrost within the packaging and should still appear fresh in appearance.


Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa loves experimenting with food of all cultures to make unique healthy dishes. When she’s not browsing Pinterest for new recipe inspiration she likes to pick up a DIY project and use her creative hands to make art or crafts. In her down time you can find her watching the latest documentaries on Netflix or going for nature walks.

If you've ever had food poisoning, you'll know it's never an enjoyable experience.
Food waste is a huge problem in North America, but as time goes on we are discovering more and more ways to reduce our waste and...
Cooking with foods to make them more flavorful seems like a delicious way to make your supper tonight.
When your carton of eggs is slightly past the expiration date, do you take it as a sign that the food is necessarily bad?
We all do the same thing at the grocery store. We buy big packages of the foods we think we will eat because it's a better deal...
In tough times, it’s difficult to justify throwing away food that might still be worth eating—despite the “best before”...
Cleaning out your fridge a few times a year is always required, especially when you have so many leftovers you need to use up!
It may feel easier to keep track of the foods we store in the fridge, after all, we do tend to check the fridge quite frequently...
For many people the refrigerator is where good food goes to die, even though it was placed there with the best of intentions;...
The microwave oven has been making our dreams come true since 1967.
There has been a lot of emphasis on the raw food diet as of late but with a bit of research, you'll quickly discover that not all...
The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in the kitchen.
Unique Christmas Dessert Recipes: 12 Delicious Ideas!