Food Expiration Dates Are Really Just Guidelines, Not Deadlines

Don’t drink that milk if it’s all curdled and nasty, but just because something in your fridge is past its expiration date, that doesn’t mean it’s not safe to eat, says a new study and some food scientists who ostensibly know what they’re on about.

The study by ShelfLifeAdvice.com and Harris Interactive, via The Boston Globe, concluded that more than three-quarters of US consumers mistakenly believe that eating certain foods after the expiration date isn’t safe.

“The dates on food packages are very conservative,” Joe Regenstein, a professor of food science at Cornell University said. “If the product was stored properly, it should last well beyond the date on the package.”

It’s not just scientists, the FDA and the USDA agree that food can be safe past the expiration date if it’s stored correctly. While people are hospitalized every year due to food-borne diseases, there aren’t any numbers showing which of those were a result of eating food past expiration dates.

While we think it’s good that no one should be throwing out food indiscriminately, follow your own instincts and your nose.

What exactly does an expiration date mean? Food lasts longer then the tossers think. [The Boston Globe]