• In addition to washing, you should peel and discard outer leaves or rinds.
  • Scrub hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, if you want to eat the fiber and nutrient-rich skin.
  • Clean surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat and poultry and before you use them on fresh produce.

Deli & Fresh Prepared Foods

Your supermarket maintains rigid quality assurance and sanitation standards to ensure that you always receive fresh, wholesome products. Once you purchase the food though, it's up to you to take care of it. This is important, especially for these perishable foods, because a large number of foodborne illnesses are caused by improper handling of foods in the home.

Most cases of food poisoning are caused by pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms, parasites or viruses. However, not all microorganisms cause food poisoning. Some bacteria, yeasts and molds are used in food production. Others are food spoilage microorganisms which cause foods to turn bad. 

Bacteria are part of our environment. Where there is food there may be bacteria. Proper food handling and cooking are the best ways to prevent foodborne illness. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who have chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.

Deli Meats…

Buy deli meats in quantities that can be used in three to five days. Properly wrap and freeze deli meats that can't be used in that time.

Rely on your senses, touch, sight and smell-to pick up signs of spoilage:

  • Off color such as grey or green. An iridescent sheen is normal on ham and roast beef due to the mineral content.
  • Off colors.
  • A sticky or tacky surface.

…and Deli Cheeses

In general, the harder the cheese, the longer the shelf life in your refrigerator. Thus, hard cheeses such as Romano and Parmesan will have a longer life than will soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.

Wrap cheese tightly. The only exception to this is the blue-vein cheeses, which need "breathing room."

Certain types of bacteria are needed for cheeses to ripen, but they also make cheeses quite prone to mold. Don't make the mistake, however, of throwing out hard cheese that has only surface molds. To be safe, cut off the mold and the surrounding 1/2-inch of hard cheese. Discard any moldy soft cheeses.

Frozen and Refrigerated Prepared Foods

These foods usually come with explicit directions on defrosting and cooking.

Thoroughly cook or reheat all refrigerated prepared foods to an internal temperature of 165o F. Never set your oven under 325o F for cooking or baking meat or poultry, since oven temperatures lower than that can increase bacterial growth. Don't purchase packages or containers whose seals, wraps or lids are broken or otherwise damaged.

Hot Foods

Your supermarket will frequently check hot-held foods. Do not purchase lukewarm foods. Consume hot foods within two hours of purchase or refrigerate them.

  • Keep food containers sealed until ready to use. Reheat takeout food in a microwave or standard oven to 165o F, or until steaming hot.
  • Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen promptly. Use leftovers within three to four days.
  • Cool foods immediately in shallow pans or bowls in the refrigerator to let air circulate.

Deli Salads

Use prepared salads like potato, macaroni and coleslaw within three to five days.

  • Follow the two-hour limit in leaving prepared salads out of the refrigerator. In summertime, shorten the two-hour rule. Even though it always looks great to spread all the food out on the picnic table, it's safer to keep cold foods in coolers until right before eating.
  • Give each salad its separate, clean spoon for serving, cover tightly when storing, and keep a watchful eye on color and texture. Although some salads get that "distressed" look because of their tendency to form a skin, the skin itself is not bad and all you have to do is mix and blend-with a clean utensil.

Deli Product Storage Chart


Main dishes, hot or

3- 4 days

2- 3 Months

Store-sliced deli meats 3- 5 days 1- 2 months
Cold salads 3- 5 days Don't freeze
Rotisserie chicken 3- 4 days 4 months
Meats covered with gravy or broth 1- 2 days 6 months
Fried chicken 3- 4 days 4 months
Sliced hard cheese, such as Cheddar or Swiss 3- 4 weeks
6 months
Soft cheese, such as Brie, Bel Paese, Goat Cheese 1 week 6 months
Olives 2 weeks Don't freeze
Sour cream dips 2 weeks Don't freeze
Pesto, salsa Date on carton;
3 days after opening
1- 2 months
Pudding Package date;
2 days after opening
Don't freeze
Cut fruits Package date;
4 days after opening
Don't freeze
Cheesecake 7 days 2- 3 months
Fresh pasta 1- 2 days
or date on package
2 months

Please Note: Storage times are from date of purchase.
If products bear a use-by  date, observe it.

It is not important if a date expires after food is frozen.

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