Trash It or Eat It? The Truth About Expiration Dates
Debating if you should pitch it or eat it? Our dietitian offers some tips about expiration dates for helping you decide.
You stand in front of the refrigerator staring at a “sell by” date on food and have the internal debate: Do I throw it in the trash or take my chances?
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You’re not the only one. Upwards of 91 percent of consumers have thrown food out based on the dates on packaging. But the dating system isn’t as clear as it seems. Nobody wants food poisoning — no fun — but few people want to waste food, either.
Let’s get some clarity.
Federal law does not require food dating in most cases, but 20 states do have laws about dates. In many cases, manufacturers add dates voluntarily.
In general, perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy get dates. But those dates aren’t always about spoilage. Some dates simply inform retailers when products are at their best for freshness, taste and texture.
The label types vary:
Still confused or concerned? Use the following rules of thumb for foods in your fridge or pantry.
Also, remember that if you freeze something, it will last indefinitely, even if not at peak freshness, taste or texture.
Above all else, let common sense — and your senses —be your guide. If something smells rotten, curdles or turns a suspicious color, toss it in the trash.
Contributor: Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD