Health & Wellness

Food Product Dating: A Guide To Expiration Dates

There is finally good news for those who find themselves questioning if they should throw out some of their untouched grocery items or not. If you are one of those who throw your food away the second it hits the first date you see on the package, you are probably wasting plenty of still edible food and spending way more on groceries than is necessary to replace them.

It turns out – those dates are not hard expiration dates and they don’t all share the same meaning…

So, before you scavenge through your fridge tossing out stuff with an expiration date of yesterday, let us clear up the confusion:

Thanks to a recent report for Institute of Food Technologists, Bob Brackett, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the correct difference between the “use-by,” “sell-by,” and “best-by” dates are finally broken down…

Here are a few key points to keep in mind next time you are doing a kitchen clean out:

It is almost guaranteed you are throwing your items out too early.

Unless the best-by or use-by date is followed by “for safety,” these dates simply refer to the quality of the product, not the safety of eating it. If you eat it a few days past this date, while there is a chance it might not taste as fresh as it would if you ate it on the day you purchased it, chances are, it is not contaminated.

However, do take into consideration that if the product has been opened, that date does not take into consideration the things it might have been exposed to from your environment.

Don’t judge by taste or smell.

Most people are guilty of simply judging the quality of the food based off a sour smell, weird color, or funky taste…

But, disease-causing organisms and other bacteria are invisible and aren’t behind spoilage problems. So, just because your week-old cheese does not look or smell funny, does not mean there aren’t harmful bacteria lingering on it.

Each manufacturer uses a different label.

While many are pushing to require the use of the same label to avoid confusion, currently, manufacturers can decide which label they use.

So, that means some of your food has a use-by date while others just have a sell-by date.

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