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Photo: Time stamp. Photo: Woman holding bag. Photo: Food items.

Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS274

Home Storage of Foods: Shelf Storage

  • Daryl Minch, M.Ed., CFCS, Family and Community Health Sciences Educator, Somerset County

Quality and Safety

Good quality food tastes, smells, and looks good. A safe food will not make you sick. Shelf-stable foods such as foods in cans, jars, or other packages last a long time when stored under proper conditions. However, sometimes food contains microbes that can make people ill. These include bacteria, viruses, molds, yeasts, and parasites. Unfortunately, people need to be careful because an unsafe food may look and smell fine but contain microbes that cause illness. For example, an incorrectly canned food may contain dangerous bacteria or toxins that will make you very sick. However, stale cereal or bread is safe, yet poor in quality. The goal of food storage is to provide both safe and high-quality foods.

A food's quality depends on several factors: the condition of the raw food and how the food is made and stored. For example, tightly folding the cereal box liner will prevent a ready-to-eat cereal from becoming stale.

Buy Good Quality

Storage Tips

How Long Does Food Keep?

Download the easy to use Foodkeeper App for Food Storage Guidelines from USDA or go to for storage charts.

For More Information

Photo credits:

April 2020