Your Food Is Expired! Toss It?

milk bottleHow many times have you thrown away food even though it smelled and looked okay because the expiration date said it was past due? You are not alone, research has shown that many of us in the United States throw away “good, edible” food because we believe that if we consume expired food we risk contracting food borne illnesses. Usually, our health isn’t at risk. We’re just throwing money in the garbage.

Why is expired food actually safe to eat?
Eating a product that has merely passed its expiration date is “not” harmful to your health. Food labeling was created not for safety purposes, but instead for the manufacturers to tell consumers when a product is at its peak freshness to consume or how long a store should sell a product. Unfortunately, words like “Sell By”, “Best By”, “Pack By”, “Guaranteed Fresh By” and “Use By” are misinterpreted by many people as an indication that a product is no longer safe to eat and should be thrown away. In reality, if those products are appropriately stored, they are usually still safe and edible for quite awhile after the dates on their labels.

For example, refrigerated foods like eggs can be consumed up to 5 weeks after the “Use By” date and milk is usually good for a week after the “Sell By” date. As for non-perishable items, such as canned goods (as long as there is no bulging from bacteria growth), they can be eaten years after their labeling date. And if you freeze a perishable item, it can last indefinitely despite the expiration date on it, because frozen foods keep safe for a long time. So, if you are unable to eat your chicken and seafood in 1-2 days and/or beef and pork in 3 to 5 days, don’t put them in the refrigerator, store them in the freezer instead if you want to maintain the safety of the food. In the freezer it will be safe to eat for a long time.

The bottom line:
Don’t let food expiration dates convince you to throw away good food prematurely. Use your senses instead to see if the food is actually spoiled and should be tossed. If it smells, looks or feels wrong, then by all means get rid of it. If you’re not sure, of course err on the side of safety and throw it away. Otherwise, think of all the money you can save by not wasting safe, healthy food and the time you can save by not having to go buy it again.

Sources: CNN and WebMD

Comments (2)

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  1. You should smell and look at it to make sure that it is Ok to eat.

  2. Isabel van Sunder says:

    You should smell and look at it to make sure that it is good to eat.

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