Though almost every food item you buy at the supermarket has some sort of expiration date — under the headers of “Sell By,” “Use By,” “Use Before,” “Best Before,” among others — printed on the packaging, the truth is date labels are largely voluntary and determined by the food producers. If handled properly, most foods are perfectly safe to eat after whatever date is on the label, but stores and consumers throw away an inordinate amount of food every year simply because that date has passed. In an effort to reduce food waste, the federal government is hoping to encourage meat and dairy producers to all use the same phrase: “Best If Used By.” [More]
USDA Asks Meat, Dairy Companies To Replace Confusing Expiration & Sell-By Labels With “Best If Used By” Date
Stroll around your favorite supermarket and you’ll see a cornucopia of deadlines stamped and printed on your food. That carton of milk says “Sell By,” the box of mac and cheese says “Best Before,” and the jar of horseradish has a “Use By,” none of which are official or necessarily an indicator of safety or quality, resulting in millions of pounds of food being wasted every year based on sometimes arbitrary dates. New legislation coming this week in both the House and Senate hopes to clear up the confusion over the many expiration date labels you find on food. [More]
While class action lawsuits can be a useful method of consumer justice, they are not a swift one. Take a class action against the clothing store Hollister, which is owned by Abercrombie & Fitch: a customer accuses the store of making promotional gift cards expire even though there was no expiration date printed on the cards. It was just certified as a class action last month, and the promotion in question happened in 2009. [More]
If you’re a regular reader of Consumerist, you’re likely aware that there’s a big difference between a “use by” and a “best before” date; the former is a sign that the food may be unsafe to eat after a certain date (though even that’s not always true) while the latter is an indicator that the item might not taste its best after that date, but is still safe to eat. However, many people don’t understand this distinction — and tons of food is wasted every year as a result. [More]
For months, grocery business watchers have been waiting for the eventual opening of The Daily Table, a store created by former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch that will offer food items beyond their “sell by” dates. The problem, says Rauch, isn’t getting the food, it’s convincing consumers that it’s safe to eat. [More]
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Use-by dates and expiration dates aren’t strict mandates designed to save you from the brink of gastrointestinal hell, they’re more like guidelines. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic says American are chucking millions of pounds of perfectly good food in the midst of expiration date confusion. That’s quite a waste. [More]
Consumerist reader J.L. is quite observant, and that’s a good thing — otherwise nine months from now he could’ve ended up eating tuna that was seven months past its “best by” date. See, he bought three of those “Lunch to Go” packs from Starkist, the kind with tuna, crackers, a spoon and a mint included. On the outside of the package was one best by date, but on the actual tuna it was a whole other story. [More]
When it comes to over-the-counter pain pills, many people don’t even think to look at the expiration date on the side of the bottle. But a new class-action lawsuit claims that three of the biggest names in the (legal) drug business are deliberately putting early expiration dates on their products to encourage customers to throw them out and buy new ones. [More]
Vinny went to a Walmart somewhere in New England to pick up some baby formula. After the purchase, he noticed that the cans he had were expired. No big deal: he brought them back to the store for the easiest exchange he’s ever experienced at a Walmart. Not an exchange, though. That’s what he would have preferred, but he tells Consumerist that every container of formula on the shelf was expired.
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.
Expiration dates on refrigerated food aren’t gospel — they’re conservative estimates by food manufacturers to ensure you don’t get sick from spoiled products. The trick to minimizing food waste is how to know just how long you have to wait to eat food that’s past its prime.
Slate has an interesting article about food expiration dates and their meaning — which can be somewhat slippery. The basic idea is this: You don’t have to throw out food just because its past the “Sell By” date. You should inspect your food to see if it has spoiled and try to make a rational decision.
Tia says she bought some milk from Safeway, pictured here, that expired more than a year ago. She writes:
Matt spotted a disturbing milk stocking method at his unnamed New York grocery store, and is convinced the setup was designed to trick folks into buying milk that is set to soon expire.
Chances are you’ve got forgotten food supplies in your pantry, writes Herb Weisbaum, so why not feed your family some old food for a week and ban yourself from the grocery store? The woman in Weisbaum’s article tried it out, and found that there were enough unused items that when she was forced to make do, she figured out a way.
S. had canceled two JetBlue flights some time ago. Instead of refunding customers’ credit or debit cards after a reservation cancellation or change, JetBlue issues credits for future flights. Fine. The problem–and the detail that wasn’t made clear to S.–is that these credits expire.