Today Show: When to Toss It?

This morning on the Today Show, I reviewed 7 items you may need to toss from your kitchen right now.

Figuring out the freshness of certain items isn’t always obvious. Some items found in and around your kitchen can be carrying bacteria, which can lead to illness so it’s important to know what to toss and WHEN:

Latte or Milk in Coffee

I’m guilty of sort of nursing my latte in the mornings but actually after about an hour at room temperature you should TOSS your latte because it’s filled with so much milk. Bacteria begins to grow in as little as 10 minutes in room temperature, even faster if the top is off. It won’t taste sour but that doesn’t mean it’s still safe to drink.


Eggs are actually still safe to consumer a couple weeks after the date stamped on the carton, but to make sure there’s a quick test. Fill a bowl with cold water and dunk the egg in the water. If it sinks to the bottom you’ve got a good egg.  IF it floats, it’s no good. And if it sinks but stands on its point, best to use that egg quickly. To keep your eggs fresh, place them in the coldest and darkest part of your fridge like the bottom shelf in the back where it’s not exposed to the temperature changing each time you open the door.


Before I started cooking I thought you could keep spices forever in the spice rack. Not so. Spices don’t spoil but they do lose their strength and flavor over time. Rule of thumb:

  • Ground Spices & Herbs: cinnamon, garlic powder, pepper can keep for 1 year.
  • Whole spice & Herbs: Good for about 2 years
  • Whole Roots: Discard after 3 years

Pizza & Leftovers

I am guilty of eating leftover pizza out of the box in college but that’s not safe.  Leftovers – especially if they contain meat – that have been sitting out for more than 2 hours you want to discard (Mayo Clinic).  Your best defense against bacteria growth is to refrigerate the food in tightly sealed containers where they’re safe for about 3-4 days.  Refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Then zap it in the microwave when ready to eat. If you don’t think you’ll eat the food in 3-4 days, but maybe in a week, then you should freeze.

Baby Food

Babies are most susceptible to foodborne illnesses, so a couple important rules to follow here: 

1)   If there’s uneaten food in the jar and it’s been sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours then TOSS just like those pizza leftovers.

2)   Previously opened baby food jars can be refrigerated with the cover sealed but only good for about 24 hours.

3)   Just a final tip about serving the baby food – According to the Food Safety Agency it’s safest to take the baby food from the jar to a clean bowl and serve from the bowl to avoid the transfer of bacteria from the baby’s mouth to the baby jar. Don’t feed straight from the baby jar.

Dish Sponge

A study found the kitchen dish sponge to be the most bacteria-friendly item in the home…more than your toilet seat, more than your dog’s water bowl. So best to toss and replace your dish sponges after 2 weeks. In between you can keep sponges relatively clean by soaking them in hot water and zapping them in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. That’s considered the best way to clean your sponges. The second best method is to place your sponge on your dishwasher’s top rack and run the washer on high heat as you wash the rest of your dishes.

Chipped Dishes

Cracked or chipped dishes and glasses should be discarded immediately. The sanitary seal has been broken and invites bacteria. Washing won’t help so it’s best to just toss.



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