Get Powered Up: A Lifestyle Tip From ECI REC
Ever realize the last ingredient needed for your recipe is expired? Most consumers mistakenly think that the expiration date indicates how safe the food is to consume. The date actually indicates when the food will be at its maximum freshness. As a result, 40% of the U.S. food supply is discarded every year because of food dating.
A food can start to change flavor after the expiration date, but it is not necessarily inedible nor will it necessarily cause illness. Because federal does not require dating (other than on infant formula and some baby foods), most manufacturers will voluntarily put a date on the product, but it can quickly lead to misinterpretation by consumers. Inconsistent terms like “use by” and “sell by” add to the chaos.
Here is a list of foods and how long they are good, regardless of the date on the packaging:
- Milk: Usually good one week after “sell by” date.
- Eggs: Good three to five weeks after purchase, if purchased before the “sell by” date.
- Beef and pork: Cook or freeze within three to five days (if frozen, can last another 6 to 8 months.)
- Canned goods: Highly acidic foods (tomato sauce) can keep 18 months. Keep other canned goods up to five years if stored in cool, dry atmosphere.
- Boxed macaroni and cheese: Enjoy a full year past the date, most likely with no noticeable changes.
If you still have questions, smell the food before consuming. Do not eat it if it has a foul odor or taste, or an otherwise strange appearance. Want to check a food to see its shelf life or how long you can leave it in the refrigerator after cooking? Visit www.eatbydate.com to look up different types of food.