Checking shelf life of condiments

BURNING QUESTIONS

May 30, 2007|By Erica Marcus | Erica Marcus,Newsday

How long will condiments last in the refrigerator?

I searched the Web to determine what are the shelf lives of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. All three products have high acid contents, and it is their acidity that keeps bacterial growth at bay.

Heinz recommends that you use its ketchup within 15 months of its manufacture, regardless of where you store it. To determine when it was made, decode the product code on the package. For example, in FR6B08, "FR" refers to the production location, "6" represents the year of production (i.e. 2006), "B" represents the month produced (February) and "08" represents the day of the month.

The customer service representative at Heinz said that "there is nothing in ketchup to go bad," but that after a while, the color can darken and the flavors can diminish.

Likewise, French's Web site proclaims that "there are no ingredients in mustard that spoil," and, as with ketchup, it can be stored at room temperature. However, mustard is prized for its sharp bite and that sharp bite will dull with time. Keeping it in the refrigerator will keep it fresher longer.

Hellmann's counsels you to consume its mayonnaise by the "best when used by" date on the container.

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday.

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