Monday, July 19, 2010

To Toss or Not to Toss? Food past its sell-by date

My husband suggested this post because he and I have differing opinions on this topic. I tend to be pretty inflexible on expiration dates, especially refrigerated items. However, he tends to keep (and eat) things beyond the date. According to a recent article in Progressive Grocer, Americans waste billions of dollars a year discarding food that is past its sell-by date but is still safe to eat.

Americans Waste Billions Tossing Food Mistakenly Believed to be Spoiled

From the article:  “Food scientists agree that most foods, if stored properly, can be safely consumed for days or even weeks past the package date,” said Joe Regenstein, professor of food science at Cornell University and a member of the Board of Advisors. “The dates on food packages are very conservative; if the product was stored properly, it should last well beyond the date on the package.”

Any strong feelings out there on this topic?  I for one just can't ignore the date on milk containers!


  1. A few years ago, my wife and I were shopping in a Wisconsin grocery store. A bunch of the yogurt on the shelves had expired. I sought out the dairy dept. manager to air my complaints and he responded that the expiration date on the container is more of a suggestion. He went on to state that there are no hard and fast rules (laws) that require the grocery store to pull the food off the shelves once they've hit expiration. He seemed to think the yogurt would be safe to eat for at least another 7-10 days. My wife and I went without yogurt that week.

  2. My husband used to work in finance at a yogurt factory and saw the quality control tests they performed. Yogurt can last a really long time (weeks) past the expiration date, it can even be at room temperature for a couple days before anything happens. Those active yogurt cultures keep it safe! :) However, retailers shouldn't sell any food item past the sell by date, I'm surprised the guy was defending it.

  3. I say milk is good for about five days after the date on the carton. Then, smell test it. Condiments like ketchup, mustard, etc. - I figure at least three months. There are a lot of preservatives in those foods. Cereal is also good past its sell by date. Sketchy items include beef, fish and poultry. I'd rather spend to buy more than get salmonella!

  4. Yeah, expired meat (even on the day on the package) grosses me out! If we have some meat that is nearing the date I throw it in the freezer.


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