Admit it: If you open your glove compartment, chances are Taco Bell hot sauce and McDonald's ketchup packets will come spilling out. Those little packets always add up, and people always seem to forget about them until they hit a critical mass. But when should you really just throw them all out?
Though nowadays, some fast-food joints , you can just ask for more and they'll be happy to provide. Though it's tempting to hoard little packets of soy sauce from your Chinese takeout order, you might want to think twice about how long they stay in your fridge.
According to , the packets lose flavor over time, and they all do have expiration dates—they're usually just listed on the massive box sent to fast-food joints, not on individual packets. There is no official list of rules from government groups like the Food and Drug Administration. But since the condiments are tightly sealed to keep out light, air, and humidity, they're designed to last for the long haul. But how long, specifically?
The blog crunched the numbers, including manufacturers' "best by" dates, to figure out how long those packets can stay in the back of your cupboard before you should toss them. A few rules of thumb: If the condiment contains dairy, or if the packaging is made of paper, it's more likely to go bad. And of course, if the package looks damaged or the product smells or tastes bad, toss it.
They sorted condiments by how long they can last for "optimal flavor." Eating condiments beyond this date may not make you sick, but it might not taste great. These numbers aren't an exact science, because every product is different, so if you're not sure whether you should throw it away, you should probably just chuck it to be safe.
Honey, salt, sugar: Indefinite
Tabasco sauce, pepper, vinegar: 3-4 years
Jelly in plastic tubs: 2-3 years
Olive oil, parmesan cheese, taco sauce, mustard, soy sauce: 1-2 years
Mayonnaise, relish, barbecue sauce, tartar sauce, horseradish sauce, maple syrup, nut butters, salad dressing, ketchup: 1 year