Winter is a great time to eat your way through your pantry, with a keen eye on expiration dates. Last week, I found these products were all nearly expired or freshly expired:
So I threw all of this into a slow cooker, along with lentils, brown rice, and spices. Wha la! I made many tasty lunches and dinners from food that might have been wasted… had I not searched for expired food in the dark corners of my pantry.
The inspiration for this soup came from a 99% Invisible Podcast called Best Enjoyed By (episode 195).
Best if used by
Forget about it after
What do all these mean? Today, there are no definitions or standards for the freshness labels that we see on our food. Companies can print whatever they like on their products. Also the labels are about freshness, not food safety. Food that is past its freshness date is not necessarily unsafe to eat.
So what should we do? Take a sniff and taste test?
In the end, common sense must prevail. Just as you wouldn’t drink milk that tasted funky (even when not expired), the ‘Best by’ date doesn’t have to mean the ‘Toss date’. At least that’s my thought.
What do you think? Is it safe to eat food past its freshness date?
I found this additional morsel of info on the USDA website:
- A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
- A “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- A “Use-By” date 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.