If that leftover meatloaf is creeping on a week of being in your fridge, it might be time to say goodbye.
All meal preppers might want to take heed, as well.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooked foods are really only safe to eat within three to four days after being cooked.
Spoilage bacteria can grow at low temperatures, such as in a refrigerator, if left for too long. This type of bacteria won’t necessarily make you violently ill, but it may cause you to gag if consumed.
The obvious signs your food has spoiled include “a change in color, texture, an unpleasant odor — or it just downright tastes bad,” according to the USDA. Argyris Magoulas, a technical information specialist with the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said, “Spoilage bacteria can cause meat or poultry to turn a dark color, develop an objectionable odor, and become slimy from the high bacterial numbers. Meat with these characteristics should not be used.”
If you simply refrigerate your food, it can last up to four days, but if frozen, food can last up to four months, according to the USDA. If there’s any question about whether or not your food has spoiled, the USDA offers simple advice, “When in doubt, throw it out.”