Is This Still Good?

An expired date on a food package = food poisoning risk, right?

Not necessarily.


“Food-borne illness comes from the contamination of food by salmonella, listeria, and other pathogens,” agriculture and food expert Dana Gunders, who co-authored a recent report on food labeling by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, tells Yahoo Shine. “They get on the food during production and processing. That’s what leads to people being sick, not the age of the food.”

Experts actually say that there are many foods will still be fine to consume to eat after their expiration date.

While most people think that food labeling is regulated, the Federal Food and Drug Administration oversees only the labeling of baby formula. Everything else is controlled by the food producer or seller.

“The demand for labels came out of a concern about freshness,” says Gunders. “They were never meant to be about safety.

The Two Types Of Expiration Dates

“Sell by” dates: When the manufacturer recommends that retailers rotate stock.

“Use by” or “best by” dates: Indicate freshness to the consumer.

How Can I Determine When To Throw Food Away?

Experts agree that consuming food, ultimately, comes down to your senses, as well as common sense.

“Smell the food,” food safety expert Ted Labuza says. Labuza, who teaches food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, says the key to ensuring a longer shelf life is controlling the storage temperature and preventing exposure to moisture and oxygen.

Such as…

Meat. Labuza keeps his refrigerator at between 32 and 34 degrees, lower than the generally recommended 40 degrees. This gives meat a 50 percent longer shelf life, he says.

Milk. Pasteurized milk also lasts 50 percent longer when stored at a lower temperature.

Jarred, Bottled & Canned Goods. The label generally gives a shelf life of about three years. If you keep cans in a cool place they will last about seven years. Always discard dented cans.

Frozen Food. Freezing kills the microbes that cause spoilage. However food may be subjected to freezer burn if there are air spaces inside of the packaging.

Eggs. Place a whole egg in a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s bad and you should throw it away. If it sinks, it’s still edible, regardless of the expiration date.

Pasta. Keep pasta in clear packaging in a dark, cool place to increase shelf life.

Bread. Keep bread and other wheat-flour based foods in the freezer to extends shelf life.

Safety Note: Experts warn that prepared foods and processed meats can pick up pathogens while being produced. They can also harbor listeria – even when refrigerated. To help keep you and your family safe, use such foods quickly and never serve processed meats raw, especially to small children, the elderly, or anyone who has a damaged immune system.