Utah State University
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All Archived Publications
Archived USU Extension Publications
1995
Food Storage in the Home
Charlotte P. Brennand
Utah State University
Deloy G. Hendricks
Utah State University
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Brennand, Charlotte P. and Hendricks, Deloy G., "Food Storage in the Home" (1995). All Archived Publications. Paper 641.
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FOOD
STORAGE
IN THE HOME
(Reducing Waste and Maintaining the Quality of
Stored Food)
Charlotte P. Brennand, PhD, and Deloy G. Hendricks, PhD
Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences
July 1995
FN 502
Contents
Who Should Have a Food Storage Program? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Why Have a Food Storage Program? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
What to Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Food Guide Pyramid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
How to Use the Daily Food Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Starting Your Food Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
How Much to Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
The Storage Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Storage Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Causes of Deterioration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
What Affects Storage Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Packaging Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Keeping Bad Things Out of the Food Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Insects and Animals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Prevent Insect Infestations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Fumigation with Dry Ice Prior to Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chemical Control in Insect Infested Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Physical Methods of Controlling Insects in Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Deep Freeze Control for Grain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Heat Treatment—Air . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Dry Ice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Bay Leaves, Chewing Gum, Chanting Words and Phrases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
WHO SHOULD HAVE A FOOD STORAGE PROGRAM?
We never know what emergency may befall us during which we may not be able to obtain
food or drink. The emergency may be loss of job or inability to work due to accident or illness.
This may result in a situation where financial resources to purchase food would not be available
or may be decreased appreciably. Natural catastrophe such as flood, earthquake or storms may
result in temporary inability to distribute food to supermarkets. Under these conditions even
having money to purchase food does not mean it can be obtained.
Even in the United States each of the above conditions occurs occasionally. Because of
the possibility of such emergencies the Civil Defense recommends storing food and drink
adequate for your family’s needs for a two-week period. Certain church organizations have
recommended their members “Have on hand a year’s supply of food, fuel, clothing and where
possible money.”
WHY HAVE A FOOD STORAGE PROGRAM?
A food storage program is essential to provide for ourselves and our family members in
an emergency. The biggest motivator most adults have is to avoid hearing a hungry child cry.
Even the most “macho” man is distraught if he cannot provide food or beverage to prevent a
child from suffering.
WHAT TO STORE
Water
Since the human body is about 65 percent water we must consider it as an important
nutrient. Rubner, a German physiologist, found that during starvation an animal can live if it
loses nearly all the glycogen and fat, as well as half the body protein, but a loss of 20 percent of
the water in the body results in death. One can live without food for over a month, but without
water only a few days.
Sources of water for our bodies come from l) fluid foods in the diet, 2) solid foods in the
diet, and 3) water produced in the body resulting from metabolism of energy nutrients. Water is
lost from the body by way of the kidneys (urine), skin (perspiration), lungs (expired air),
intestinal tract (feces), and eyes (tears). (See Table 1.)
A reasonable recommendation for water consumption per day would be a tablespoon for
each 15 calories of food. A 2,200 calorie diet would require about 10 cups or 2 ½ quarts per
day/person.
Water may be stored effectively by one of two methods: 1) individual containers of 1 - 2
gallon size; or 2) large immovable reservoirs of 50-100 gallon size. The advantage of small
individual containers is the ease with which they can be transported. Large reservoirs, although
immovable, may be connected to a potable water system so that circulation of fresh water is
continuous.
1
TABLE 1. WATER BALANCE
(Average Individual)
Water Intake
Liquid Food
Solid Food
Water produced in body
4.7 cups
2.1 – 3.8 cups
1.7 cups
TOTAL
8.5 – 10.2 cups
Water Output
Vaporization (lungs & skin)
Feces
Urine
3.9 – 4.2 cups
0.3 – 0.4 cups
4.2 – 5.5 cups
TOTAL
8.4 – 10.1 cups
Water may be stored for long periods of time (5 years or more) if it does not react with
the container or its components. Glass, polyethylene, polyester, or metallized polyester containers
all work well. Insure that lids do not contain paper components. Adding an insert or barrier of
any of the above plastics will work well. Water stored for long periods in proper containers may
taste flat, but can be improved by shaking, causing some air to be incorporated with it.
TABLE 2. U.S. RDA's
Food Items
Enough people have eaten for a long enough
period of time that some conclusions on “What to
Eat?” can be drawn from experience. Some average
amounts of the nutrients required for growth,
maintenance and reproduction of the human system
have been published (see Table 2). These nutrients
are distributed among the food groups: l)
milk/cheese, 2) meat/poultry/fish, 3) vegetables 4)
fruit, 5) bread/cereal, and 6)
fat/alcohol/sweets/other. Appropriate servings from
each food group combined into a daily intake will
provide an adequate nutrient supply.
There are three key principles to consider
(i.e., variety, balance, and moderation) for diet
selection. Enough data has been generated by our tax
dollars so that any person can quickly determine a
nutritionally sound diet to support and maintain
good health. Such information is found in the Food
Guide Pyramid.
2
Vitamin A
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin C
Folic Acid
Thiamin
Riboflavin
Niacin
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Biotin
Pantothenic Acid
Calcium
Phosphorus
Iodine
Iron
Magnesium
Copper
Zinc
Protein
5,000 IU
400 IU
10 IU
60 mg
0.4 mg
1.5 mg
1.7 mg
20 mg
2.0 mg
6.0 mcg
0.3 mg
10 mg
1.0 g
1.0 g
150 mcg
18 mg
400 mg
2.5 mg
15 mg
45 g
Every individual does not like the same foods. Each family member should have some
input into planning what foods to store. A simple, sensible rule is to store the foods that you
normally eat, if they provide an adequate diet. This rule will insure that, l) family members will
eat the food that is stored, and 2) stored food will be consumed within the shelf-life period. If the
family prefers corn flakes, milk, sugar, juice and bread for breakfast, then these are the items to
store. It is difficult to imagine much enthusiasm at the breakfast table if this family were to sit
down to whole wheat, powered milk, honey, and a vitamin pill. A diet of these foods would
become monotonous in a few days. Additionally, a marked alternation in diet could cause some
temporary digestive problems.
3
HOW TO USE THE DAILY FOOD GUIDE
What counts as one serving?
The amount you eat may be more than one
serving. For example, a dinner portion of
spaghetti would count as two or three servings
of pasta.
Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta
1 slice of bread
½ cup of cooked rice or pasta
½ cup of cooked cereal
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
Vegetables
A Closer Look at Fat and Added
Sugars
½ cup of chopped raw or cooked
vegetables
1 cup of leafy raw vegetables
The small tip of the Pyramid shows
fats, oils, and sweets. These are foods such as
salad dressings, cream, butter, margarine,
sugars, soft drinks, candies, and sweet
desserts. Alcoholic beverages are also part of
this group. These foods provide calories but
few vitamins and minerals. Most people
should go easy of foods from this group
Some fat or sugar symbols are shown
in the other food groups. That’s to remind you
that some foods in these groups can also be
high in fat and added sugars, such as cheese or
ice cream from the milk group, or french fries
from the vegetable group. When choosing
foods for a healthy diet, consider the fat and
added sugars in your choice from all the foods
groups, not just fats, oil, and sweets from the
Pyramid tip.
Fruits
1 piece of fruit or melon wedge
¾ cup of juice
½ cup of canned fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
1 cup of milk or yogurt
1 ½ to 2 ounces of cheese
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs,
and Nuts
2 ½ to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat,
poultry, or fish
Count ½ cup of cooked beans, or 1
egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
as 1 ounce of lean mean (about a
serving)
Fats, Oils, and Sweets
LIMIT CALORIES FROM THESE
especially if you need to lose weight
How many servings do you need each day?
Calorie level*
Women & some older
adults
Children, teen girls, active
women, most men
Teen boys & active men
about 1,600
about 2,200
about 2,800
11
9
6
Bread group
5
4
3
Vegetable group
4
3
2
Fruit group
**2– 3
**2–3
**2–3
Milk group
3, for a total of 7 ounces
2, for a total of 6 ounces
2, for a total of 5 ounces
Meat group
*These are the calorie levels if you choose lowfat, lean foods from the five major food groups and use foods from the
fats, oils, and sweets group sparingly.
**Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teenagers, and young adults to age 24 need three servings.
4
Food comes in many forms. Fresh, frozen, dehydrated, canned, salted/cured, pickled,
smoked, and pasteurized food can all play a role in a good storage system. All of these foods
require some energy for their production, harvesting, preservation, storage, and preparation
(cooking). In the absence of traditional energy sources some food forms may not be available or
may not store for the normal shelf-life period. It is possible to convert some forms of food with
short shelf-life into other forms with longer shelf-life. Fresh apples which spoil in 3-4 weeks at
ambient temperatures (70/F) may be held 4-5 months at refrigerated temperatures (32/F). Frozen
meat may be thawed, salted to a level of 12 percent salt, and then held at 60/F for several weeks.
Before the meat is consumed salt must be leached from the tissues using fresh water so the
resulting cooked product will be palatable. Frozen meat may be thawed and then canned without
loss of quality. Vegetables and fruits which have been frozen are not acceptable when thawed
and canned, but some kinds may be readily dehydrated after being frozen for short periods.
Only store foods that your family will eat.
STARTING YOUR FOOD STORAGE
Food storage is viewed as a part of emergency preparedness. It is also a part of the
program of a gardener to preserve and store away some of the fruits of his or her labor. Whatever
the reason a person has for storing food beyond immediate needs, planning must be done to avoid
waste.
There are a number of approaches to building a food storage program. Only two will be
outlined, which can be adapted to fit individual needs. A major reason for not having food
storage is the expense. A simple way to avoid a large cash outlay is to merely purchase double
the items on the grocery list with each shopping excursion. The extra items are then marked with
the purchase date and put into storage to be rotated out and replaced on the next shopping trip.
Perishable items such as fluid milk or eggs are difficult to work into this system.
Therefore substitutes such as nonfat dried milk may be purchased for storage. Keep in mind,
however, that there is a limit to the length of time that even these semi-perishable or dehydrated
items can be stored.
A disadvantage of the double purchase system is that it is not as easy to benefit from sales
prices. One advantage is that items are only purchased that are routinely used in menu planning,
thereby reducing waste and improving rotation.
Another approach to beginning a food storage program is to use a lump sum of money
such as a tax refund or a bonus check to purchase a large amount of basics for your family. The
pamphlet “Essentials of Food Storage” has suggested that basics should include wheat, sugar or
honey, salt and nonfat dried milk. While it is true that these items do store well, it is important
that the family will use what they store. This
list could be modified to include grain
Your food storage is only as good products such as wheat and white flour, pasta
and as nutritious - as the original
products, rolled oats, rice, dried beans, split
quality.
peas, lentils and other dehydrated fruits and
vegetables. Cracked or whole wheat products
do not store well because the membranes are
broken that keep the oil in the wheat germ away from the iron and other minerals in the
endosperm and the bran layer. Rancidity occurs at a rapid rate. Rolled oats are heat treated which
5
destroys the lipase enzyme and therefore will store quite well.
When establishing a food storage program do not forget:
1.
2.
3.
Store only those items you will use. If you do not currently include a food in your diet it is
not likely that you will use it.
Do not purchase more than you will rotate and use within a 2 to 3 year period of time to
reduce waste.
Insure that the quality of the item you purchase is acceptable. Quality does not improve
upon storage for most foods.
Planning before you begin a food storage program will help to avoid pitfalls.
HOW MUCH TO STORE
Many families or individuals desire to maintain a 12 month supply of food. Most food
storage systems in Utah involve growing and preserving food at home from gardens and
orchards. Generally, these sources provide a major portion of foods to the storage systems
between June and October. Home meat supplies are most commonly obtained in the fall of the
year when wild game seasons occur, and following pioneer traditions of slaughtering domestic
animals during the cooler months to take advantage of natural refrigeration.
If you were to sample most Utah family food storage programs in November, about 45
percent would have adequate stores of food for one year. If the same families were resampled in
May only 20 percent would still have a years supply on hand. Families which did not have a
years supply in May had used food from storage and had no garden or orchard to replenish the
supply during the winter months. For this reason, it is suggested that an 18 month supply be
stored in order to maintain a 1 year supply of food. The extra 6 months supply of food would be
available between December and June when most systems are at their lowest level.
Families that were resampled and still had a years supply in May did so because they
never used food from their storage system. We have analyzed over 10,000 food storage systems
in Utah and found that
many people are under the
illusion that food lasts
14 gallons of water per person (2 week supply)
forever. Their food storage
1 pound of dry matter per person per day of dried foods
systems are designed so
that a years supply is
purchased and stored until
needed. Consequently they have some stored food that is 10, 20, and 25 years old. In view of
what is known about shelf-life, these systems are quite wasteful and inefficient.
One pound of dry matter provides about 1600 calories of energy. Because energy is the
most critical item in a food storage program (it will prevent the baby from being hungry) it
should be considered first. Thus dried beans, flour, wheat, rice, sugar, dried fruits or vegetables,
pastas or dried skim milk all provide about 1600 calories per pound. While 1600 calories will not
adequately meet the energy needs of a hard-working large man it will quiet hunger pangs for
individual members of a family. One pound of dry matter per person per day serves as a basis for
a food storage program. Generally in Utah with our home gardens a family will supplement the
dried products with fresh fruits and vegetables in a storage pit or cellar as well as canned or
frozen fruits and vegetables.
6
THE STORAGE AREA
The storage area should be located where the average temperature can be kept above 32/F
and below 70/F. Remember that the cooler the storage area the longer the retention of quality and
nutrients. Freezing of some items, such as canned products, should be avoided since the
expansion of the food during freezing may rupture (metal) or break (glass) the container, or break
the seal on lids on glass bottles, and allow the food to be contaminated. This could pose a serious
safety risk when the food thaws.
The storage area should be dry (less than 15 percent humidity), and adequately ventilated
to prevent condensation of moisture on packaging material. The area should be large enough so
that shelves can accommodate all of the stored food and adequate space is available to keep the
area clean and tidy. A 9 x 12 foot room with 10 foot ceilings will provide adequate space for a
family of six to store an 18 month supply of food. Food should not be stored on the floor. It is a
good idea to have the lowest shelf 2-3 feet off the floor in flood prone areas. Shelves should be
designed so that a simple rotation system can effectively allow the oldest food to be used first
and the newest food to be held within the shelf-life period.
When designing and building a food storage area, do it to minimize areas where insects
and rodents can hide. As practical, seal all cracks and crevices. Eliminate any openings which
insects or rodents may use to gain entrance to the storage area.
Electrical equipment such as freezers, furnaces and hot water heaters should not be
housed in the storage area. These appliances produce heat, unnecessarily increasing storage
temperatures. Insulation of the storage area from other areas of the house will effectively reduce
the average yearly temperature of the food.
The cooler your storage, the longer the food will maintain quality.
STORAGE LIFE
Quality and nutritive value of food deteriorates during storage, therefore foods should not
be held for long periods beyond their established shelf-life. When food is stored too long, there is
the risk of two things happening: 1) color, flavor, aroma, texture or appearance deteriorate to a
level where people will not consume the food, and 2) nutrient deterioration may be severe
enough to render the food an unreliable source of specific nutrients.
Properly processed canned, dried, and frozen (never thawed) foods
do not become unsafe when stored longer than the recommended
time, but palatability and nutrient quality are diminished.
7
CAUSES OF DETERIORATION
Self Destruction
All living systems, whether plant or animal, were designed with a self-destruction
mechanism. With death or harvest, this mechanism is activated. If allowed to proceed, naturally
occurring enzymes in the food will cause discoloration, and undesirable flavor and textural
changes such as when an apple rots. As animals and plants are slaughtered or harvested, they lose
the protective devices provided by a living system. When wheat is ground, the kernel dies and
becomes vulnerable to rancidity.
Microorganisms
Bacteria, yeasts and molds are the most common causes of spoilage of food and
foodborne illness. Processing methods are designed to control microorganisms by either killing
them (ex. canning) or preventing their growth (ex. drying or freezing). It is important to realize
that a food which is safe due to inhibition of microorganisms loses that safety when conditions
change. Dried beans that are cooked are no longer safe to store at room temperature. When meat
is thawed, it still contains living organisms and therefore must be held under refrigeration and
used within a fairly short time period.
Insects and Rodents
Rodents deposit waste products in stored grains. Insects grow in flour, hatching eggs, to
produce larvae. Cleanliness and good packaging are important in the avoidance of both problems.
Contamination
Stored food can become unsafe to consume from contact with undesirable substances. Be
aware of what nonfood material is in close proximity to the stored food. This includes packaging
in nonfood-approved substances such as storing wheat in plastic garbage bags.
Chemical Changes
Flavor and color changes can occur during storage; especially when stored in packages
which do not exclude air and light. Baking powder can lose its sizzle and baked products won’t
rise.
WHAT AFFECTS STORAGE LIFE
Shelf-life is defined as the period of time between slaughter or harvest and consumption.
Shelf-life may be relatively short (a few hours) or may be extended for a number of months.
Scientists determine the shelf-life of a food by storing it under carefully controlled conditions for
a given period of time. During this storage period measurements are made to monitor changes in
two important parameters: l) the quality of the food (i.e., color, flavor, texture, odor), and 2) the
nutrients it contains (i.e., vitamins, protein, fat, water, minerals, and carbohydrate).
8
There are several important factors which influence shelf-life and are important to
consider in a food storage program. Temperature, humidity, packaging material, irradiation by
sunlight, the protection from insects and rodents, and formation of natural toxicants are just a few
of the parameters which must be considered in establishing shelf-life recommendations. Since
storage temperature is one of the most important factors, perhaps a general rule might be
appropriate. The lower the temperature the longer the shelf-life. Persons storing foods in a garage
at an average temperature of 90/F should expect a shelf-life less than half of what could be
obtained at room temperature (60-70/F) which in turn is less than half the storage life in cold
storage (40/F). We have adjusted many of the recommendations to a 70/F environment (see
Tables 3, 4, 5, 6). This is about the average basement storage temperature for Utah. Persons
storing food at 90/F should reduce the recommendation by one-half in most cases. These
recommendations were not made to establish how long food may be stored, but to provide data
for a sensible rotation system. For instance, canned condensed milk may be stored safely for 5
years, but the quality and nutrient content will never be improved over what it was between 1-12
months. The quality may be so poor no one will consume it.
Irradiation by sunlight can also induce physical and chemical changes in food. Insects
and animals can consume food and spread disease. High humidity increases perishability of many
foods. Selective packaging material which can exclude light, air, and moisture enhances the
length of shelf-life.
PACKAGING MATERIALS
While many families have gone to great lengths to insure an adequate store of food in
their homes, not much thought has been given to packaging the food.
Food should only be stored in food-grade containers. A food-grade container is one that
will not transfer non-food chemicals into the food and contains no chemicals which would be
hazardous to human health. Some good examples of containers not approved for food use are
trash or garbage bags, paint or solvent cans, industrial plastics and fiber barrels that have been
used for non-food purposes. The safety of any packaging material can be determined by
contacting the manufacturer and asking if a particular container is approved for food use. Many
manufacturers are beginning to indicate on the container label if it is approved for food use.
Consumers who have stored food in containers other than those approved for food use
should dispose of the food immediately. Bury the food deep in the ground where animals do not
have access to it. There is no stored food that is worth enough to risk chemical contamination by
non-food chemicals and a potential hazard to human health.
Plastic films and containers of food-grade quality are made from polycarbonate,
polyethylene and polyester. They differ in characteristics of density, strength and barrier
properties. To increase moisture and oxygen barrier properties, films have been laminated.
Laminated plastics may include a metallic layer which will greatly increase barrier properties.
Military food packaged in metallized polyester, polyethylene wrap has a long shelf life (5+ years)
if kept cool.
When safe packaging material has been identified, some suggestions as to size and
durability are warranted. Containers for storage of dry foods such as wheat, beans, rice, oatmeal,
and cornmeal should have a maximum of 20-30 pound capacity. These sizes may be moved
easily by one adult person. More important is that these smaller amounts of food will be used up
in a relatively short period of time, thus reducing the chance for contamination or infestation by
insects. Smaller containers provide a way of using the food, but not exposing large quantities to
the environment during use periods.
9
Metal cans used in the canning industry are only designed to last a few years. Losses of
canned foods usually occur due to breakdown of the can rather than extensive deterioration of the
food under normal storage conditions. Sealed number 10 cans are popular for dehydrated foods
mainly due to size, convenience and minimal exposure of the foods to the environment.
Glass jars, which are popular among home canners, are quite inert compared to metal
cans, but are less durable to shock. Fiber boxes, which were the original containers for glass jars,
make excellent storage containers for jars of fruit since they exclude light and effectively separate
individual jars to prevent breakage.
Glass, metal and plastic containers, especially if they have tight-fitting lids and no open
crevices or seams, are usually the containers of choice.
If food items, such as grain or cereals, are insect-free when placed in these containers,
they will most likely stay insect-free after a long period of storage. Glass jars have the advantage
that you can see what’s in them.
Flexible plastic containers last longer and are more durable if placed inside a rigid
container. Information on the suitability of flexible plastic containers for protecting food from
insect infestations is limited. If the food is insect-free to begin with, and if the packages are
properly sealed, they should prove satisfactory.
Chemicals
Non-food household chemicals should not be stored in the same area with food. Volatile
chemical compounds can be transferred to the
food and affect the flavor and odor. These
chemicals should be stored in a separate area
Date and rotate food in your storage.
where children do not have access to them.
Many consumers have requested
information concerning the chemical treatment
of food prior to storage to extend the shelf-life and prevent insect infestation. Before using any
chemical treatment, check to make sure it is safe to use and determine what levels of the
chemical are safe and effective.
KEEPING BAD THINGS OUT OF THE FOOD SUPPLY
Clean, cool, dry storage areas are preferred. Avoid storing food in open containers on
shelves. Keep food storage areas free from spilled food and food particles. Good housekeeping
helps prevent insect infestations. To prevent or at least minimize insect infestations in stored
food products it would be ideal to store them somewhere between 35/F and 45/F. Realistically, if
they can be stored below 65/F it will be helpful.
Insects and Animals
In the best interests of the family budget, food conservation, clean food and health, stored
food items should be protected from contamination and damage from insect pests. Small flour
beetles, dermestids, weevils, larder beetles, several kinds of moths and other stored food pests
readily infest, contaminate, destroy, and consume accessible food supplies. It is important to
prevent or reduce these kinds of losses whenever possible.
10
Prevent Insect Infestations
To prevent insect infestations in bulk foods, keep all stored foods in tight, clean, metal,
plastic, or glass insect-proof containers that have tight fitting lids and no open seams or crevices.
Store food off the floor and away from damp areas.
Fumigation with Dry Ice Prior to Storage
To fumigate home stored wheat or similar products, spread about 2 ounces of crushed dry
ice on 3 or 4 inches of grain in the bottom of the container, then add the remaining grain to the
can until it is at the desired depth. If fumigating large quantities use 14 ounces for 100 pounds of
grain or 1 pound of dry ice for each 30 gallons of stored grain. At approximately 75 cents a
pound for dry ice the cost of fumigating is reasonable.
Since the fumes from vaporizing dry ice are heavier than air, they should readily replace
the existing air in the container. Allow sufficient time for the dry ice to evaporate (vaporize)
before placing the lid on all the way (approximately 30 minutes). The lid should not be made
tight until the dry ice has pretty well vaporized and has replaced the regular air. Then it can be
placed firmly on the container and sealed.
Should pressure cause bulging of the can after the lid has been put in place, remove the
lid cautiously for a few minutes and then replace it. If using plastic bags in the can, don’t seal the
bags until the dry ice has vaporized. Carbon dioxide will stay in the container for some time,
provided the container lid is tight. When practical, follow the above procedure in a dry
atmosphere to reduce the condensation of moisture in the bottom of the can.
Dry ice tends to control most adult and larval insects present, but probably will not
destroy all the eggs or pupae. If a tight fitting lid is placed firmly on the container after the dry ice
has vaporized, it may keep enough carbon dioxide inside to destroy some of the eggs and pupae.
After 2 to 3 weeks another fumigation with dry ice may be desirable to destroy adult insects
which have matured from the surviving eggs and pupae.
If properly done, these two treatments should suffice. Yearly treatments are not indicated
unless an infestation is recognized.
Caution: Dry ice should always be handled with care. It should not be accessible to
young children or to adults who are not aware of its vaporizing properties.
Chemical Control in Insect Infested Areas
If the infestation is extensive, dispose of the contaminated food. If the infestation is light,
you may be able to salvage the product, but in most cases it will be to your advantage to dispose
of any insect infested food you have in storage, including spices.
Remove all food packages and containers from the infested area. Clean the shelves, and
as appropriate, remove the lower kitchen drawers and clean the areas behind and underneath the
drawers with an extension to the vacuum. Then spray the area with a house-hold formulation of
an approved insecticide such as pyrethrum or Malathion. If an aerosol formulation is used, the
dosage should be no problem. If mixing a concentrated insecticide with water, follow label
directions. Spray cracks and crevices under shelves and along mop boards. Do not spray the
11
insecticide directly on food, food preparation surfaces, such as bread boards, or on any food
equipment or utensils. If appropriate, once the spray dries, cover the shelves with clean shelf
paper or foil before returning food packages to the shelves.
Kerosene-based sprays should not be used around flour since the flour may absorb the
kerosene. If treating an area where flour is stored, remove the flour before treating and place it
back on the shelves after the kerosene odor is gone. Do not spray oil-based insecticides on
asphalt-tile floors.
Household formulations of Diazinon, Baygon (propoxur), Malathion, or Drione, may be
used for crack and crevice treatment behind radiators, under sinks, and in ant runs to destroy ants,
roaches, earwigs, silverfish and roaming flour-infesting insects. See label directions for
information on insects controlled by these chemicals and the appropriate uses.
NOTE: Most insecticides are poisonous to man and animals. Follow instructions on the
label. Do not store pesticides near foods or medicines. Keep all pesticides out of the reach of
children, pets, and livestock.
Physical Methods of Controlling Insects in Food
Clean, cool, dry storage areas are preferred. Avoid storing food in open containers on
shelves. Keep food storage areas free of spilled food and food particles. Good housekeeping
helps prevent insect infestations.
Deep Freeze Control for Grain
Small quantities of grain, 1 to 10 pounds, can be put in medium to heavy food grade
plastic bags and placed in a deep freeze for 2 to 3 days. This will usually destroy all stages of any
insect pests which are present.
As a check spread the deep freeze treated grain on a cookie tray at room temperature until
thawed. If live insects are present they will probably be seen crawling about. If they are present,
repeat the process. If not, remove any insect fragments, put the grain in an approved container
and store it in a cool, dry place.
Heat Treatment—Air
When packaged goods such as beans, cereals, whole grains, nut meats, and similar dried
foods become infested they may be “sterilized” by heating in an open oven as follows.
Spread a shallow layer of wheat in a cookie tray or large pan. Pre-heat the oven to about
140/ to 150/F. Put the tray in the preheated oven and leave it there for 30 minutes or more. The
oven door should be left slightly open to avoid overheating. This treatment should destroy all
stages of the insect if the layer of grain on the tray is not too thick (1/2 inch). Next, remove the
tray and cool the wheat thoroughly before returning it to a clean, dry storage container. As
necessary, use a fan to blow off any existing insect fragments. Where large quantities of dry food
are to be treated, this method is not practical.
Heat is detrimental to the proteins in wheat and may reduce the ability of the bread to rise
properly. Some reduced loaf volume and heavier texture may be apparent when using heat treated
grains.
Dry Ice
Food may be fumigated with dry ice as previously described.
12
Bay Leaves, Chewing Gum, Chanting Words and Phrases
We receive numerous inquiries asking about exotic treatments to prevent insect
infestations in stored grain. In unofficial experiments we have conducted, it was noted that some
insects will continue to feed when enclosed in containers with tight fitting lids, even in the
presence of these exotic suggestions. We have also concluded that chanting words and phrases
fall upon deaf ears. Some consumers have reported on the effectiveness of many exotic
treatments. Our investigations have shown these instances to only be effective when no insects
were initially present in the food.
TABLE 3
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Food Component
Storage Condition
Average
Storage
Temperature
Fresh potato
ventilated boxes or
bags
Fresh sweet potato
Storage Area
Optimum
Length of
Storage
35 - 40/F.
moderately moist pit
or cellar
6 months
ventilated boxes or
bags
55 - 60/F.
dry basement
6 months
Canned potato
original container
70/F.
dry basement
30 months
Canned sweet potato
original container
70/F.
dry basement
30 months
Frozen potato
original package
0/F.
freezer
8 months
Dehydrated potato
original container
70/F.
dry basement
30 months
Potato chips
original container
70/F.
basement
Fresh dark green
vegetables
flexible package
38 - 40/F.
Onions fresh dry
net bag
32/F.
cool dry area
6 months
Carrots fresh
ventilated boxes or
bags
32/F.
moist pit or cellar
6 months
Pumpkin fresh
ventilated box
55/F.
moderately dry
basement
6 months
Squash (winter) fresh
ventilated box
55/F.
moderately dry
basement
6 months
Tomatoes fresh ripe
flexible package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
2 weeks
Tomatoes green
mature
flexible package
55 - 70/F.
moderately dry
basement
Cabbage fresh
ventilated box
Other fresh vegetables
flexible package
32/F.
38 - 40/F.
13
refrigerator
moderately moist pit
or cellar
refrigerator
1 month
7 days
4 - 6 weeks
6 months
1 - 2 weeks
Food Component
Storage Condition
Beets fresh
ventilated box
Canned vegetables
Average
Storage
Temperature
Storage Area
Optimum
Length of
Storage
32/F.
moist pit or cellar
6 months
original container
70/F.
dry basement
24 months
Frozen vegetables
original container
0/F.
freezer
12 months
Dehydrated
vegetables
air & moisture-proof
cont.
70/F.
dry basement
8 months
Fresh citrus fruits
ventilated container
32/F.
moderately moist
cellar
8 weeks
Bananas fresh
ventilated container
60 - 70/F.
basement
1 week
Berries fresh
ventilated container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
Pears fresh
ventilated container
32/F.
moderately moist
cellar
4 months
Apples fresh
separated in boxes
32/F.
moderately moist
cellar
6 months
Canned fruits
original container
70/F.
dry basement
24 months
Frozen fruits
original container
0/F.
freezer
12 months
Dehydrated fruits
air and moisture-proof
cont.
70/F.
dry basement
8 months
Canned fruit juices
original container
70/F.
dry basement
24 months
Frozen fruit juices
original container
0/F.
freezer
12 months
Dehydrated fruit
juices
air & moisture-proof
cont.
70/F.
dry basement
12 months
Canned vegetable
juice
original container
70/F.
dry basement
12 months
Canned tomato
condiments
original container
70/F.
dry basement
24 months
Jams and jellies
original container
70/F.
dry basement
18 months
Pickles
original container
70/F.
dry basement
12 months
14
1 - 2 weeks
TABLE 4
BREAD, CEREAL, RICE AND PASTA
Food Component
Storage Condition
Average
Storage
Temperature
Storage
Area
Optimum
Length of
Storage
Flour (whole wheat graham)
10 - 12% moisture sealed cont.
70/F.
basement
2 weeks
Flour (white enriched)
10 - 12% moisture sealed cont.
70/F.
basement
1 year
Prepared flour mixes
(pancake, muffin, cake)
original container
70/F.
basement
8 months
Hot breakfast cereals
(wheat and oat)
original container
70/F.
basement
6 months
Cold breakfast cereals
(corn, oat, wheat, rice)
original container
70/F.
basement
1 year
Rice, dried (brown, white enriched)
10 - 12% moisture sealed cont.
70/F.
basement
2 years
Cornmeal
original container
70/F.
basement
1 year
Pasta, dried
10 - 12% moisture sealed cont.
70/F.
basement
2 years
Popcorn, unpopped
original container (can)
70/F.
basement
3 years
Popcorn, unpopped
original container (bag)
70/F.
basement
3 months
Bread fresh purchased
original container
70/F.
basement
5 days
Bread frozen purchased
original container
0/F.
freezer
Bread made from whole wheat polyethylene bags
(ground fresh)
70/F.
basement
3 days
Bread made from white flour
polyethylene bags
70/F.
basement
5 days
Raw batters and doughs frozen original container
0/F.
freezer
3 months
Pretzels, crackers, cereal snacks original container
70/F.
basement
3 months
Other bakery products (fresh rolls,polyethylene bags or cartons
cakes and cookies purchased)
70/F.
kitchen
4 days
Other bakery products
polyethylene bags or cartons
(frozen rolls, cakes and cookies)
0/F.
freezer
6 months
Raw whole wheat
70/F.
basement
25 years
10 - 12% moisture sealed cont.
15
6 months
TABLE 5
MEAT, POULTRY, FISH AND LEGUMES
Food Component
Storage Condition
Average
Storage
Temperature
Beef fresh
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 days
Beef ground
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
1-2 days
Beef frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
Beef corned
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
2 weeks
Beef chipped
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
28 - 42 days
Beef dried
restructured and dried
in a can
70/F.
cool basement
18 months
Beef canned
(in chunks with natural
juices)
original package
70/F.
cool basement
30 months
Pork frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
0/F.
freezer
Pork fresh
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 days
Pork cured
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 weeks
Pork sausage
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 days
Veal fresh
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 days
Veal frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
Lamb fresh
original package
Lamb frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
Variety meats fresh
original package
Variety meats frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
Frankfurters
vacuum package
Processed lunch meats
0/F.
0/F.
38 - 40/F.
0/F.
38 - 40/F.
0/F.
Storage Area
freezer
freezer
refrigerator
freezer
refrigerator
Optimum
Length of
Storage
10 months
4 - 6 months
8 months
4 days
8 months
2 days
freezer
4 months
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
3 weeks
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 weeks
Chicken and turkey fresh
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
5 days
Chicken and turkey
frozen
air and moisture-proof
container
0/F.
freezer
8 months
Fish frozen (varies with
species)
original package
0/F.
freezer
3 - 9 months
Fish smoked
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
16
refrigerator
4 weeks
Food Component
Storage Condition
Average
Storage
Temperature
Storage Area
Optimum
Length of
Storage
Fish canned
original package
70/F.
cool basement
18 months
Fish shellfish frozen
original package
0/F.
freezer
3 months
Eggs fresh
original package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
4 weeks
Eggs dried
original package
70/F.
cool basement
36 months
Egg substitutes
original package
0/F.
freezer
3 months
Nuts
original package
70/F.
cool/dry basement
12 months
Beans dry
rigid plastic or metal
container
70/F.
cool/dry basement
12 months
Peas and lentils
rigid plastic or metal
container
70/F.
cool/dry basement
12 months
17
TABLE 6
DAIRY PRODUCTS
Food Component
Storage Condition
Average
Storage
Temperature
Fresh fluid milk whole
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Fresh fluid milk 2%
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Fresh fluid milk skim
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Fresh fluid buttermilk
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Fresh fluid milk chocolate
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Canned evaporated milk
can inverted at 2 month intervals 60 - 70/F.
basement
12 months
Canned condensed milk
can inverted at 2 month intervals 60 - 70/F.
basement
12 months
Dry milk products
original container
60 - 70/F.
basement
24 months
Cream light
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Cream heavy
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Cream half and half
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Cream substitutes
original container
60 - 70/F.
or frozen
basement
or freezer
Cream sour
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Yogurt
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Ice cream
air and moisture-proof container
0/F.
freezer
30 days
Ice milk
air and moisture-proof container
0/F.
freezer
30 days
Sherbet
air and moisture-proof container
0/F.
freezer
30 days
Natural American cheeses
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
6 months
Processed American cheeses vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
8 months
Swiss cheese
vacuum package
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
6 months
Cottage cheese creamed
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
14 days
Cream cheese
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
21 days
Dry cheeses
original container
60 - 70/F.
basement
Cheese spreads, dips, etc.
original container
38 - 40/F.
refrigerator
18
Storage Area
Optimum
Length of
Storage
24 months
3 months
21 days
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Utah State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in
cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Robert L. Gilliland, Vice President and
Director, Cooperative Extension Service, Utah State University. (EP/07-95/DF)
20