How long is commercially prepared potato salad good for?

Mark RepliesCategory: General questionHow long is commercially prepared potato salad good for?
Ralph Falzarano asked 10 months ago

Dear Mark, hope all is well.

I bought some commercially prepared **potato salad from Hannefords super market about a week ago. The package has a thin plastic seal over the potatoe salad that needs to be opened in order to eat some. I broke the seal and its been in the fridge ever since. I was going to eat some more of it tonight but wasn’t sure it would be safe, It has a USE BY JUN/20/23 stamped on its plastic container.
Ingredients:  **Red Potatoes, Mayonnaise (Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolks, Vinegar, Salt), Water, Vinegar, Onion, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Black Pepper, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Xanthan Gum.
Source: HANNAFORD BROS. CO., LLC

Would you please let me know your thoughts and suggestions.
Cordially, Ralph

1 Answers
Mark Staff answered 10 months ago

Dear Ralph
Thank you for your question.
Generally speaking, the FDA requires food manufacturers to test batches of prepared food (in this case, potato salad) to ensure that pathogens are absent in 25 gram samples. Also, use-by dates are mostly established for quality (spoilage), not safety, reasons. 
However it is possible for the potato salad to become contaminated with a pathogen after the product is opened in the home. Whether a pathogen can grow in potato salad is primarily affected by the pH (acidity) of the food and the temperature at which it is stored. Research studies show that if the pH is less than 4.6, then there is low risk that any pathogen can grow, even at elevated storage temperature. However, if the pH is greater than 4.6, it is possible for some pathogens to grow at refrigerated temperature.
My recommendation is to consume the potato salad before the use-by date, so that it has the best quality. If you have any doubts about the safety of the product after it was opened, then discard it.
Regards
Mark

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