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Kids' Health Kids' Health

Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?

Posted by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 7:03 AM
  • 34 Replies
1 mom liked this

I found this article and I thought it was interesting, so I wanted to share!  The entire article is several pages long, so I'm just going to post the link and part of it.  

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/do-food-expiration-dates-matter

Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?

Experts provide a guide to the variety of confusing 'freshness' dates on food.
By 
WebMD Feature

You open the fridge, drag out the cottage cheese, check for fur, and if there isn't any, you say, "Honey? Will you sniff this?" This is not, however, the approved method of checking for freshness. The approved way lies in a voluntary system of labeling.

Yes, voluntary. The only items required by federal law to be labeled for expiration are infant formula and some baby foods; some states also mandate pulling dairy from store shelves on the expiration date.

                                 ...

by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 7:03 AM
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TigerofMu
by Sonja on Sep. 17, 2012 at 7:04 AM

The rest of page one...

Learn the Lingo of Expiration Dates

This brings us to terminology. The actual term "Expiration Date" refers to the last date a food should be eaten or used. Last means last -- proceed at your own risk.

Other, more commonly spotted terms are:

  • "Sell by" date. The labeling "sell by" tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires. This is basically a guide for the retailer, so the store knows when to pull the item. This is not mandatory, so reach in back and get the freshest. The issue is quality of the item (freshness, taste, and consistency) rather than whether it is on the verge of spoiling. Paul VanLandingham, EdD, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., tells WebMD the "sell by" date is the last day the item is at its highest level of quality, but it will still be edible for some time after.
  • "Best if used by (or before)" date. This refers strictly to quality, not safety. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. Sour cream, for instance, is already sour, but can have a zippier, fresh taste when freshly sour (if that's not an oxymoron!)
  • "Born on" date. This is the date of manufacture and has been resurrected recently to date beer. Beer can go sub-par after three months. "It is affected by sun," VanLandingham says. The light can reactivate microorganisms in the beer. That's why you have to be especially careful with beer in clear bottles, as opposed to brown or green.
  • "Guaranteed fresh" date. This usually refers to bakery items. They will still be edible after the date, but will not be at peak freshness.
  • "Use by" date. This is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • "Pack" date. You will find this one on canned or packaged goods, as a rule, but it's tricky. In fact, it may be in code. It can be month-day-year-MMDDYY. Or the manufacturer could revert to the Julian calendar. January would then be 001-0031 and December 334-365. It gets even weirder than that.
TerriC
by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 7:38 AM

Very interesting.  I always wonder if it can still be good for a day or two longer, maybe even more than that.

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Sep. 17, 2012 at 8:14 AM

I know yogurt is good for a month to six weeks after the expiration date.  That stuff goes forever!

Quoting TerriC:

Very interesting.  I always wonder if it can still be good for a day or two longer, maybe even more than that.


batjmom
by Sarah on Sep. 17, 2012 at 8:26 AM
1 mom liked this

 I'm so concerned about it .. I'm sure I throw away things that are perfectly fine

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Sep. 17, 2012 at 8:29 AM

I do that with some things because I just don't know.  If I'm not sure, I'm not serving it!

Quoting batjmom:

 I'm so concerned about it .. I'm sure I throw away things that are perfectly fine


TerriC
by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 8:57 AM
Really? Wow! I heard eggs are good for a lot longer also.


Quoting TigerofMu:

I know yogurt is good for a month to six weeks after the expiration date.  That stuff goes forever!

Quoting TerriC:

Very interesting.  I always wonder if it can still be good for a day or two longer, maybe even more than that.



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TigerofMu
by Sonja on Sep. 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Yes.  We keep eggs around a lot too.  I've never had eggs go bad in my fridge.  The only thing is that you can tell they are not as fresh, so if you were making something that depended on the freshness of the ingredients like Angel Food Cake, it might not work.  They are darker yellow, and the yolks get oozier.

Quoting TerriC:

Really? Wow! I heard eggs are good for a lot longer also.


Quoting TigerofMu:

I know yogurt is good for a month to six weeks after the expiration date.  That stuff goes forever!

Quoting TerriC:

Very interesting.  I always wonder if it can still be good for a day or two longer, maybe even more than that.




TerriC
by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 3:08 PM
1 mom liked this
Some one told me that eggs stay fresher longer if you store them on the top rack towards the back instead of in the door. Same with milk, so that is what we do.


Quoting TigerofMu:

Yes.  We keep eggs around a lot too.  I've never had eggs go bad in my fridge.  The only thing is that you can tell they are not as fresh, so if you were making something that depended on the freshness of the ingredients like Angel Food Cake, it might not work.  They are darker yellow, and the yolks get oozier.

Quoting TerriC:

Really? Wow! I heard eggs are good for a lot longer also.





Quoting TigerofMu:

I know yogurt is good for a month to six weeks after the expiration date.  That stuff goes forever!

Quoting TerriC:

Very interesting.  I always wonder if it can still be good for a day or two longer, maybe even more than that.






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jessicasmom1
by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM
1 mom liked this

great explanation

Vertical15
by on Sep. 17, 2012 at 4:24 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm always bothered by expiration dates.  I grew up with a hoarder for a mom.  She kept everything.  She said if it was frozen the dates don't matter, at all.  She still goes by this and while we are all healthy and happy adults I try to be careful with my family and probably also throw things away too early.

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