Do Montanans Worry About Condiment Expiration Dates?
Yesterday here at the Townsquare Tower, I grabbed myself a quick bite for lunch in between meetings and checked our TSM Fridge for some condiments. I found some Mayo and Ketchup... but had the realization "I've worked here for just over a month... and have no idea how old this stuff is. How long are these good for?" Here's the answer, as I am sure you also have wondered this.
Scientific Data on this?
Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of scientific data or details on this. If you inspect most pre-packaged single-use condiments, they don't have any date markings that can be made sense of. They do have a batch unit code, but that is it. So, how can we tell if it is good or bad?
Way Back Machine
Discovered in my research, an article from WISN Milwaukee dating back to 2006, about this very question. Apparently, Heinz used to provide a detailed listing of all their single-usage condiment expiration dates! Here's the list:
- Ketchup - 7 Months
- Chopped Onions - 7 Months
- Mayonnaise - 8 Months
- Fat-free Mayonnaise - 8 Months
- Relish - 9 Months
- Mild Taco Sauce - 9 Months
- Hot Taco Sauce - 4 Months
- Yellow Mustard - 9 Months
- BBQ Sauce - 9 Months
- Steak Sauce - 9 Months
- Tartar Sauce - 8 Months
- Horseradish Sauce - 8 Months
- Cocktail Sauce - 9 Months
- Tabasco Sauce - 8 Months
Now, that, by all means, is not an end-all. Taco Bell also told WISN back in 2006 that their sauce packets are best used within 120 days. Though, TB said their packets are used within less than 30 days. Phew.
How can I test it to make sure?
In the case of the TSM Fridge drawer... I have no idea when those packets were put in there... or how long they sat before landing IN that drawer. So, here are some recommended ways you can test condiments before slathering your lunch. (Though, no matter what, if you don't feel safe consuming them... just don't. A bland sandwich is better than a hospital visit)
- Inspect the packaging. If it is puffy or damaged, toss it.
- When opening the packet, once again inspect it. Are the contents an odd color? Odd Smell? Texture? Toss it.
- Rule of thumb: Does the condiment have fat content? If yes, they go bad much faster.
What about others?
Now, some condiments can last... forever. Here's a list of the more unique options:
- Salt: Basically forever
- Sugar: Basically forever
- Honey: Basically forever
- Tabasco/Hot Sauce: 3-4 years
- Jams/Jellies in the small plastic containers: 2-3 years
Do you have others you can think of? Or what do you do when this issue comes up? Let us know in the app!