Expiration dates don't make sense. (2023)


Dare I eat an old peach yogurt? Yes Yes I do.

(Video) Expiration Dates Don't Mean What You Think | Adam Ruins Everything

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Expiration dates don't make sense. (1)

(Video) The Messy Truth About Food Expiration Dates

For refrigerators across America, the end of Thanksgiving promises a major purge. The good things are the first to go: the mashed potatoes, the buttery remains of the filling, the cold breakfast pie. But what is it in the distance, huddled darkly behind the wreckage? There are the marginalized relics of pre-Thanksgiving grocery stores. Whipped cream a few days after the expiration date. A desolate bag of spinach with a label saying it went bad on Sunday. Bread so stale you wonder if it's from last Thanksgiving.

Non-diet conscious, myself included, tend to go past their sell-by date. Last week I inspected the contents of a small container in the bowels of my fridge that had expired six weeks past its expiration date. I haveDare to eat a peachYogurt? I definitely did and it was great. Antique items don't stand a chance in most homes. It makes sense that people would be wary of expired foods, which can sometimes be unpalatable and encourage a fussy trip to the bathroom, but food scientists have been telling us this for years, when notdecades-aExpiration dates are almost uselesswhen it comes to food safety. In fact, much of what we consider to be rubbish is perfectly fine to eat: the non-profit food waste organization ReFED appreciated this.305 million pounds of foodthis Thanksgiving would needlessly be wasted.

Expiration dates, it seems, are hard to pin down. But if ever there was a time to break the habit of throwing out "expired" but perfectly good items out of an abundance of caution, it's now.waste of foodhas been a major climate concern: the annual emissions of rotten food in the US.42 coal power plants– and with inflationbrutal toll on supermarket bills, is also a problem for your wallet. stupid people$1,300 per yearFood waste, Zach Conrad, assistant professor of food systems at William and Mary, told me. in this economy? The only thing we should throw away are the expiration dates themselves.

Part of an extended family of labels that includes easily confused "best before," "sold by" and "best before" siblings, expiration dates have long confused our idea of ​​what is edible. They do this by suggesting that food has a definite point of no return beyond which it is dead, broken,Time's up– and you can be too, if you dare to eat it. If only eating was that easy.

(Video) The Expiration Dates You Should And Shouldn't Ignore

The problem is that most expiration dates only contain information about the items.quality🇧🇷 With the exception of infant formula, where they actually refer to the expiration date, dates generally represent a manufacturer's best estimate of how long the food is perfectly fresh and tasty, although the actual meaning varies greatly, especially as there is no oversight of the government. about the brand there. Milk in Idaho, for example, can be "sold" in grocery stores more than 10 days later than in neighboring Montana, although this is now the case.qualitatively no difference🇧🇷 Some states, like New York and Tennessee, don't require labels.

Date labels were so arbitrarysince they emerged in the 1970s🇧🇷 At the time, most Americans depended on supermarkets for their food and on manufacturers who knew about freshness. Now, "the vast majority of consumers think these [labels] are about safety," Emily Broad Leib, a Harvard law professor and founding director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, told me. A study she co-authored in 2019 found that84 percent ofAmericans, at least occasionally, throw away food just before the date printed on the package. But quality and safety are two very different things. Many products can be edible, if not tasty, well past their expiration date. Safety, for food experts, refers to an item's ability to cause the kind of food poisoning that lands people in the hospital. It's no joke, Roni Neff, an expert on food waste at Johns Hopkins University, told me.

Think of milk, which is one of thosethe most wasted food in the world🇧🇷 Milk already fermented or curdled can, you see, still beabsolutely safe to consume🇧🇷 (Actually, it doesfluffy pancakes and cookiesyou…Skin softening masks.) "If you take a sip of this milk, you won't end up with a foodborne illness," said Broad Leib, adding that milk is one of the safest foods because pasteurization kills all germs. His rule of thumb for other refrigeration items is that anything destined for the stovetop or oven is safe past its expiration date as long as it doesn't smell or look weird. In industry parlance, cooking is a "kill step" - one that destroys harmful invaders -if it's done well🇧🇷 And then there's the pantry, an Eden of timeless groceries. In general, dry products never become unsafe, even when their taste decreases. "You don't take control of your life by eating a stale cookie or granola," said Broad Leib.

Of course, it would be easier if labels focused on safety, but for most foods, the factors are too complex to be summarized in a single piece of information. Food is considered unsafe when it is transmittedpathogenssuch as listeria, E. coli or salmonellathat can cause foodborne illness🇧🇷 These enter the food through contamination, as withWater contaminated with E. coli is used to grow romaine lettuce🇧🇷 Correct storage, that means temperaturescolder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, stunts their growth (except for listeria, which is particularly scary because it allows them to thrive while they get cold). It would be extremely difficult for a label to reflect all of this information, especially as unsafe storage and contamination are common.latergroceries, in hot car trunks, and on unsanitized work surfaces. But as long as the food doesn't contain these germs in the first place, the pathogens won't suddenly appear when the clock strikes midnight on the due date. "They're not spontaneous. Their cookies don't catch salmonella off the shelf," said Broad Leib.

However, there is a category of foods that must be labeled. Sometimes referred to as "foods that embarrassed women should avoid," it includes certain ready-to-eat items such as processed meats, raw fish, sprouted vegetables, and unpasteurized milk and cheese, Brian Roe, professor at the Center for Food Innovation at Ohio State University , told me. These require special care, as they may contain listeria, which is invisible to the senses, and are usually served cold, that is, they do not go through the slaughtering stage before consumption. The experts I spoke with agreed that high-risk foods should be labeled as such, as there's no way of knowing if they've become unsafe. As of today, the date label is the only information available and "doesn't help people protect themselves from this handful of foods," Broad Leib said. To overcome this setback, efforts are being made in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies to replace all dates with two sentences:best when used bydenotes quality andused byFor security.

(Video) Everything You Thought About Expiration Dates Is Wrong

But it's one thing to know that expiration dates are wrong and quite another to live by them. In America, dates have become a tradition we can't escape, Neff said, adding that each house's attorney usually sets the rules. And even for the most adventurous eaters, date labels serve a purpose: are they a tool to calibrate judgment, or are they just there to provide the convenience of a point of reference. “It has something to do with seeing a number therewe believeit tells us something that makes us feel safe," Neff said. Manufacturers, on the other hand, keep the date labels because they don't want to risk consumers buying expired products, even if they are safe and still (at their most) delicious.

While there's no perfect way to tell if food is safe or not, there are better ways to tell than the expiration date. The saying "play when in doubt" no longer applies, Neff said; If you're not sure, just look it up. Good tools are available online: she recommendsFoodKeeper, an app developed by the United States Department of Agriculture that allows users to see how long food lasts. This oneZero Waste Kitchen Guide, by food waste pioneer Dana Gundersdetailed practical advice, such as scraping a half inch below blue-green mold in hard cheese to safely capture the rest. Leftovers require a little more caution, Broad Leib noted, because reheating, transferring between containers, and frequent contact with utensils (which have certainly been in the mouth) pose a greater risk of contamination; Her recommendation is to eat them within three to five days and reheat them well until the pathogens are killed.Indoor temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit🇧🇷 And if that turns out to be a chore, consider Roe's version of the old adage, "When in doubt, panko coat, saute, and feed to your kids."

However, there is a tactic that applies to most foods: the smell test. Your senses can provide most of the information you need. "If something stinks, you know it," said Broad Leib. People developed disgust for it.taught us how to avoid the bad smell of food contaminated with pathogens🇧🇷 But since most people are out of practice, they have trouble distinguishing good from bad or don't trust their senses. To be fair, it can be hard to tell if there are any strange odors coming from the milk or the carton. Every expert I spoke with supported the revival of home economics education to restore nutritional knowledge lost since Americans abandoned farming, albeit with a different branding and without sexism. Teaching students to handle perishable foods means teaching them what spoiled food looks and smells like. Of course, adults can learn this at home by opening the milk carton and daring to dig deeper. It could be the first breath of the rest of your life.

We are unlikely to return en masse to the pre-1970s idyll of buying food directly from farmers or growing it ourselves. Americans are "several generations away from growing and producing food, so we don't know our food as well as we used to," Jackie Suggitt, director of capital, innovation and engagement at ReFED, told me. An olfactory rebellion can't mend our broken relationship with food, so to speak, but hey, it's a start. Lonely items that remain in the fridge after Thanksgiving may be just a breath away from new relevance. If I deigned to sniff this "expired" cream, I would happily stumble upon a future pumpkin pie filling. What about wilted spinach than a can of unsalted artichokes?


Are food expiration dates meaningless? ›

Most packaged foods are perfectly fine for weeks or months past the date. Canned and frozen goods last for years. That package of chips you forgot about that's a month out of date isn't going to kill you — they just might be a tiny bit less crunchy than you'd like.

Do expiry dates really matter? ›

The dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in the sense of becoming inedible. For un-refrigerated foods, there may be no difference in taste or quality, and expired foods won't necessarily make people sick.

Should I trust the expiration date? ›

Expiration dates don't indicate safety. It's best to use your senses to judge whether a food product is still safe for consumption. Food and Drug Administration.

Can you ignore expiration dates? ›

Here's the first thing you should know: Expiration dates are not expiration dates. Food product dating, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls it, is completely voluntary for all products (with the exception of baby food, more on that later). Not only that, but it has nothing to do with safety.

Can food last 5 years after expiration date? ›

Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the 'best by' date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor.

Is it OK to eat after expiration date? ›

After all, if food isn't properly stored or packaged, it can go bad even before the expiration date. But as long as you aren't seeing any signs of spoilage, most foods should still be good to eat well past their expiration dates (good news for that bottle of ketchup in your fridge).

What is the point of an expiration date? ›

An expiration date is the last day that a consumable product such as food or medicine will be at its best quality, according to the manufacturer.

How long is too long after expiration date? ›

For sell-by dates that go past at home, you can continue to store the food for a short amount of time depending on what it is. Some common products are: ground meat and poultry (1 to 2 days past the date), beef (3 to 5 days past the date), eggs (3 to 5 weeks past the date).

How strict are Use by dates? ›

Use-by dates are about safety

A use-by date on food is about safety. This is the most important date to remember. Never eat food after the use-by date, even if it looks and smells ok, as it could make you very ill. You can cook and eat food until midnight on the use-by date shown on a product, but not after.

Does water expire? ›

Water is a natural substance and does not go bad, however the plastic water bottle will degrade over time and begin to leach chemicals into the water, which is why it is always important to choose BPA free bottled water. ✅ How long can you keep bottled water? The recommended shelf life is two years.

What item has the longest expiration date? ›

These 13 Foods Have the Longest Expiration Dates
  • 8 Months to 1 Year. Ketchup and Mustard. ...
  • 1 Year. Beef Jerky. ...
  • 1 to 2 Years. Soy Sauce. ...
  • 2 Years. Whole Grains. ...
  • 2 to 5 Years. Pickles. ...
  • Decades. Whole Spices. ...
  • Hundreds of Years. Wine. ...
  • Virtually Forever. Pasta.
2 Jan 2019

Does anything not expire? ›

Spices (dried): They will lose their aroma and flavor over time but are safe to eat indefinitely. Sugar, including Granulated sugar Powdered sugar Brown sugar. Vinegar, including: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar (unseasoned) and white wine vinegar.

What happens if you eat expired packaged food? ›

"If you do eat a food past the expiration date [and the food] is spoiled, you could develop symptoms of food poisoning," said registered dietitian nutritionist Summer Yule, MS. The symptoms of foodborne illness can include fever, chills, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

What foods dont expire? ›

9 Foods That Never Expire (Ever)
  • Honey. Thanks to the magic handiwork of bees (they have special enzymes that basically inhibit bacterial growth) and the way it's processed for storage, honey is the longest lasting of the bunch. ...
  • Rice. ...
  • Instant Coffee. ...
  • White Vinegar. ...
  • Vanilla Extract. ...
  • Salt. ...
  • Dried Beans. ...
  • Sugar.
7 Sept 2016

What foods can you not eat after the expiration date? ›

What Foods Should You Never Eat After an Expiration Date?
  • Jarred Condiments. It may seem like condiments last forever, but the truth is that once the safety seal on your jars is broken, bacteria is slowly starting to collect. ...
  • Soft Cheeses. ...
  • Egg Substitutes. ...
  • Cold Pressed Juice. ...
  • Fresh Berries.
4 Aug 2022

How many days after expiry can you eat? ›

Sell-By Date

Stores use this date to know when to remove products from shelves. You can eat food after the sell-by date. For example, dairy products are good for 1 week after the sell-by date. Eggs are safe for 3 to 5 weeks after the sell-by date.

Can you use flour 2 years out of date? ›

The bottom line. Flour has a long shelf life but generally goes bad after 3–8 months. White flour may last longest due to its lower fat content, while whole-wheat and gluten-free varieties spoil sooner. You can extend flour's shelf life by sealing it properly or refrigerating or freezing it.

Can you eat expired food if it hasn't been opened? ›

Food consumed after its expiration date might not be harmful to the body, assuming it has been stored properly, and bacteria likely hasn't had time to start growing.

Who invented expiration dates? ›

Let's start with a short history lesson. Expiration dates were introduced in 1950 at a store called Marks & Spencers. It wasn't until 1970 when “Sell By” and “Best By” tags were added to most supermarkets.

When did they start putting expiration dates on food? ›

In the 1970s, grocery shoppers clamored for more information about the quality of food on supermarket shelves. Under pressure from activists, including the distribution of pamphlets deciphering sell-by codes, food makers began to put dates on their labels. At first, this “open dating” tactic appeared to be working.

Can you eat eggs 2 months out of date? ›

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eggs can be sold for up to 30 days after they were packaged. So when your eggs' expiration date has passed, they could be two months old—and still more than likely safe to eat.

Can I use dates that are out of date? ›

While you should never eat food past it's “use by” date, the “best before” date gives you a little bit of wiggle room. It refers to quality, so food is still safe to eat after the given date, but the flavour, smell or texture may be affected.

Are expiration dates conservative? ›

CR shows you how to extend food expiration dates.

In many cases, dates are conservative, so if you eat food past that date, you may not notice any difference in quality, especially if the date has recently passed.

Does unopened toothpaste expire? ›

Generally, toothpaste has a shelf life of two years from its manufacturing date before fluoride's ability to strengthen and repair tooth enamel significantly decreases. Different kinds of toothpaste have different shelf lives, so make sure to double-check your packaging or tube for an expiration date.

Is it safe to drink old bottled water? ›

Certain chemicals found in plastic can leach into bottled water over time, which could potentially damage your health. Thus, it's probably best to avoid commercially bottled water that's far past its expiration date.

Does bacteria grow in open water bottles? ›

Bacteria, fungi and even mold can thrive in a water bottle, thanks mainly to its moist environment. Simply rinsing the bottle out with water isn't sufficient, and care must be taken when cleaning bottles that have attached straws and narrow-mouth lids with lots of nooks and crannies.

What food can last 100 years? ›

Honey is known to be one of the only foods that can last forever. This is largely due to the fact that it is made up of sugar, which makes it hard for bacteria or microorganisms to affect the honey.

Does rice actually expire? ›

Dry white rice has a shelf life of up to 2 years, while brown rice keeps up to 6 months. Signs of expired rice include holes in the packaging, bugs, water, and mold. Brown rice may become rancid, oily, or discolored.

How accurate is an expiration date? ›

These dates aren't required by federal law (though some states require them) and don't necessarily indicate a product's safety (with the exception of baby formula). In fact, perishable products are usually safe to consume beyond their “best by” date if they've been handled and stored properly.

What's one thing that never expires? ›

Conventional wisdom holds that raw honey never expires because it's naturally antibacterial. According to the USDA, it can be stored for up to 12 months, ideally at room temperature in a dark cupboard. After that, it's still safe to eat, but the quality may not be as good.

Does sugar expire? ›

"Technically sugar never spoils," explain food safety experts from the US Department of Agriculture's Food Service and Inspection Service, though they do add, "for best quality it is recommended to use within two years of opening."

Does salt expire? ›

While salt itself has no expiration date, salt products that contain iodine or seasonings that contain other ingredients such as spices, colors and flavors can deteriorate over time.

Should food be stockpiled? ›

That's why having an emergency preparedness stockpile is important. All Americans should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day.

What can you do with unopened expired food? ›

Food banks and pantries all over the country—especially larger organizations which have registered dieticians on the staff who check all donated food to ensure it is still safe to eat and nutritious—encourage people to donate their past-date food (see here, here).

Can I eat expired chocolate? ›

In most cases it is perfectly fine to eat chocolate past the sell by date depending on how it was stored, according to Eat By Date, a consumer advocacy website dedicated to the shelf life of food.

Is the expiration date the last day? ›

Credit cards expire at the end of the month written on the card. For example, a credit card's expiration date may read as 11/24, which means the card is active through the last day of November 2024.

Does expiration date mean on or before? ›

Refrigerated products most often have sell-by dates on the labels. Stores use this date to know when to remove products from shelves. You can eat food after the sell-by date. For example, dairy products are good for 1 week after the sell-by date.

What happens after expiry day? ›

Effect of expiry date on stock price

The expiry date refers to the settlement of F&O contracts. As a result, the stock market undergoes significant volatility. The stock market can turn bearish or bullish depending on the nature of the derivatives contract settled on the expiry date.

Is expiry date month or day first? ›

What does the 'expiry date' mean? The expiry date usually means that you should not take the medicine after the end of the month given. For example, if the expiry date is July 2020, you should not take the medicine after 31 July 2020.


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