Puzzled by food expiration dates? Trying to understand when is the right time to get rid of the packaged food can startle even the most intelligent housewife and the wide variety of tag codes don’t seem to really help. This article will help you make heads or tails of it. No matter if it’s meat or dairy products, fresh or packaged, read on to understand what expiration date implies and how you can avoid wasting money.
You discover that the bottle of milk in your fridge has actually expired three days ago. You smell it but you can’t tell if it’s off. Is it a good idea to use the milk for your children’s breakfast then?
The majority of professionals say that you can use it, even when the used-by date has passed.
As a matter of fact, used-by dates are more important to groceries stores than to consumers. The majority of packed items that come with an expiration date allow shop owners and producers to keep an eye on the products. Remember that dates and labels can change and the government is not in charge of regulating those things.
According to a professor of the University of Minnesota, Ted Labuza, Ph.D., more than sixty per cent of the used-by dates food items have are what the producers think might be.
The spokeswoman of the U.S Department of Agriculture, Kathy Bernard, says that consumers are not interested in what they say about food or if the food looks and smells good. When people see that food has expired, they simply throw it in the bin.
Something to say is that tags are not easy to understand. A Medical detective has recently discovered that food items in a local supermarket have all kinds of tags including things like “enjoy before such date”, “sell by” for some items, “use by such date” for packaged meat and even “better if used before such date”.
The majority of us look for foodstuff that are likely to go off quickly that have a used-by date not close to the purchase date. However, how fresh an item is depends on how quickly the item got to the refrigerator of the store than the used-by date printed on the tag.
This means that reading the expiration dates will not ensure you that the product you are buying is fresh.
There are some food items that are still edible after the expiration dates and others that can go off even before the used-by date.
Apart from that, the dates printed in the products are more related to the quality than to how safe it is to consume them after they expire.
According to the spokeswoman, safety is related to preventing the growth of bacteria that can be dangerous for health. In the case of quality, it is related to how fresh and item is.
Let’s have a look at some important things to know at the moment of reading food label.
- “Sell by” date: This term is mainly used by producers to let shop owners know when to take them from the shelves.
- “Best if used by / used by” – date: This term makes reference to the quality of the product and not how safe it is. When the printed date has passed, the flavor and nutrients might go down but the items can still be consumed.
- “Expires by / expiration date”: You should not use the food item when the product has expired.
- “Packed date”: It is difficult to understand these codes but you can keep the product for about a year and it won’t go off.