food / Food Bacteria / Food Labels / Food Safety / Food Storage / Health / Health Coach / Uncategorized

Eating Food Past Expiration Date

When was the last time you threw out food because it was “expired” before you could enjoy it? If you’re like most Americans, it was today. Yep, the average U.S. citizen tosses almost a pound of food a day, according to a 2018 PLoS ONEstudy. But we’ve all been taught to think it’s unsafe to eat expired food, right?

Food waste happens so often in my household. I always get asked, “is this still good?” It’s always about something that had an expiration date for that day or a few days past that date! (And the sad thing is 90% of the time that food items hasn’t even been opened.)

I know you are wondering what the answer is to the question and so many of us—ask? So were we. So today i go over how long you can (or should) eat food after its expiration date. But first, lets define exactly what an expiration date is.

What’s the definition of an expiration date?

Here’s some shocking but true news: those date claims are often regulated by no one but the food brands themselves. “The FDA does not require manufacturers to place expiration or use by dates on food products except for infant formulas. Some state and local agencies require expiration dates on certain food labels, but most often, manufacturers voluntarily include expiration or use by dates.

In fact, one Harvard researcher likened these non-regulated dates to “the Wild West.” So what do these far-from-scientific terms truly mean? Here’s a debrief from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:

Best by: For consumers; a sign of when flavor or quality is at its peak. This has no relation to food safety.

Sell by: For the store; a sign for how long to keep a product on shelves. This has no relation to food safety.

Use by: For consumers; a sign of when to use a product by for the best quality. This has no relation to food safety.

Notice a theme?

Confusion over these dates causes a whopping 90 percent of Americans to trash perfectly safe food, says a Food Marketing Institute survey. Common culprits include soup, eggs, dairy products, cereal, and bread.

So, is it safe to eat expired food?

Because there is no clear-cut definition of an expiration date. You can trust your instincts: “A good rule of thumb to follow is to use your senses; if something smells, feels, tastes, or looks bad, it probably is.

Storage techniques are key when it comes to extending the shelf-life of your food. If a product is stored properly, it should last beyond the date listed on the package. There is so much food waste in this country—it’s sad how much good food gets thrown in the trash.

Tips for Extending a Food’s Lifespan

There’s new legislation being proposed that will create nationwide rules for labeling food, clearing up the confusion between a date that might mean the food may not be at its optimal quality (tastewise) versus the date that means a product is unsafe to eat.

Try the USDA’s Foodkeeper App to max out the lifespan of your groceries, stock their food safety and storage charts in your kitchen and keep these top five pointers from Alpert in mind:

  1. “For prepackaged items and canned goods, six months to one year is the average shelf life if foods are kept in cool dry storage.”
  2. “Buy fresh goods like produce and dairy in smaller quantities on a more regular basis, such as weekly, so you can use them up faster to avoid spoilage.”
  3. “Meal plan to minimize food waste. That way, you’ll buy only what you need for the meals you are going to prepare.”
  4. “Purchase frozen fruits and veggies to avoid throwing away produce that goes bad before you are able to use it.”
  5. “Stock your pantry with healthy dried products like quinoa, black rice, dried lentils, and low-sodium beans so you have meal staples on-hand whenever you need them.”

Savvy scientists continue to search for a better strategy to indicate food safety dates in a way that doesn’t confuse consumers or lead to excess waste. A handful of brands in the U.K., including dairy company Arla Foods, are testing out a new sticker label called Mimica Touch. It goes from smooth to bumpy in the presence of product or temperature alterations that signal actual expiration. Until these technologies move stateside, remind yourself of the food safety guidelines and stick with the tried-and-true smell test.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed today’s post? If you have any questions about today’s post, any past post or questions, in general, please feel free in reaching out. You can ALWAYS find my email in the “Thank You” section and you can also ALWAYS find all of my social media links in the “Where You Can Follow Me” section. If you or someone you may know is looking for one on one coaching or just looking for advice on how to jump-start a healthy lifestyle or how to stay on track during the holidays you can find all of my links which are ALWAYS provided in the “Thank You” section and in the “Where You Can Follow Me” section.

Thank You

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Hello, my name Is Amanda and I'm the woman behind AmandaExplainsIt. I'm a Free Spirit, coffee sipping blogger and I embrace all of the messy parts of life.I'm a mommy of two precious doggies and an advocate for food allergies, animals, and nutrition In real life. I've always loved writing and writing a blog fulfills that. I'm all about spirituality and going with the flow of things. I'm new to the beauty world and I'm excited to share what I learn along the way. Come back often because I post often and I post things related to but not limited to Beauty Reviews, Product Reviews, Spirituality, Nutrition and Food Allergies, and Gluten-Free Recipes. If you like what you read let's be friends. ~XOXO A.

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