For people who care about their food

How to tell if food is off

A pair of rotten applesI first saw this joke a while ago and it still makes me laugh so I thought I’d share it with you.

How to tell when foodstuffs should be discarded

The Gag Test

Anything that makes you gag is off, except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night.


When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

Dairy Products

Milk is off when it looks like yoghurt. Yoghurt is off when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is off when it starts to look like ordinary cheese. Ordinary cheese is nothing but off milk anyway and can’t get any more off than it already is.




If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is off.

Frozen Foods

Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting cycle in your freezer compartment will probably be off – or wrecked, anyway – by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.


If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a half-mile radius to congregate outside your kitchen door, the meat is off.


Lettuce is off when you can’t get it off the bottom of the salad drawer without Flash.

Tinned Food

Any tinned food that has become the shape or size of a football should be disposed of. Carefully.


A carrot that you can tie in a clove hitch is not fresh.


It should not taste like salad dressing.


Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches or dense leafy undergrowth.


If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

General Rule of Thumb:

Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in your refrigerator to gauge this.

For more serious information, please see my Food Hygiene series.

7 Responses to “How to tell if food is off”

  1. Mike the curry fiend

    You forgot one:


    You bought them over 10 minutes ago.

  2. Not Delia

    Yeah, and they’re often much more expensive than buying from local markets.

  3. Dave

    Very funny, but I’m sad to say it reminded me of my mother-in-law’s fridge.

  4. Joe L


    If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a half-mile radius to congregate outside your kitchen door, the meat is off.”

    I’ve been there. But seriously, I hate when cold cuts get all slimy… waste of good meat. By the way, those apples look disgusting.

  5. Frank

    I had a couple of laugh out loud moments reading this. Sadly though, I think I’ve experienced more than one of these first hand. The milk one in particular.

  6. Dianne Cris Becker

    based on the looks and smell you can easily determine if the foods are spoiled or not. This website is helpful but it’s just common sense whether or not the food is spoiled or not.

  7. Not Delia

    Thanks for the comments. I’m glad it made some of you laugh, as it was a joke posting after all.

    BTW, it’s simply not true to say that you can determine whether food is off or not not by the look and smell. There are many contaminants which can’t be seen nor smelt.

    Try my Food Hygiene section for more info.

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