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THE GAG TEST
Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except in the case of leftovers from the food you cooked yourself last night).
When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.
Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway, and it can't get any more spoiled than it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese, but you realize you've never purchased that kind.
If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.
Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.
This is NOT a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you'll spend more on groceries. Perhaps you'd benefit from having a calendar in your kitchen.
If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals within a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.
Sesame seeds and poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable "spots" that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy or hairy looking white or green growth areas are a good indicator that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.
Flour is spoiled when it wiggles.
It is generally a good rule of thumb that cereal should be discarded when it is two years or longer beyond the expiration date.
Bibb lettuce is spoiled when you can't get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet. Romaine lettuce is spoiled when it turns liquid.
Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of. CAREFULLY.
Raisins should not be harder than your teeth.
Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or any other dense, leafy undergrowth.
You know it is well beyond its prime when you're tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food.
GENERAL RULE OF THUMB
Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in or near your refrigerator to gauge this.
Hopefully, this small public service will help during the busy season, and if you read carefully at the beginning, you know that there is another random giveaway as a part of this post. If you'd like to participate in this giveaway, in the comments please share either your method of telling when a particular food item has gone bad (It can be the truth, something humorous similar to the above, or a combination of the two), OR as an alternate choice, the food you enjoy as your favorite holiday treat. This contest is open now and will continue until Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11 p.m. MST. The comment submission form will serve as the time stamp indicator, and all entries received after the cut off point will not be part of the gift selection process. If you have not read the contest rules, please do so by clicking here.
The gift for this giveaway will be one of (winner's choice) the two remaining items after giveaway #3 ends (For example, if the hair pins are the winning gift for that giveaway, the winner here will have a choice of either the "grab bag" of items or the bicycle ring. This is of course dependent on what is selected for giveaway #3).