What do you need to know about food expiration date?
There are different terms we can see on the food we buy: Best by, Use before, Sell by, Use by, Freeze-by. Most of us admits it’s confusing. That misinterpreting might frequently lead to the tossing of perfectly edible food. USDA estimates that 30 percent of the food supply is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer levels. That has a social, environmental and economic impact.
Despite what consumers may believe; food labels are not based on food safety. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require date labels, the only exception in on infant formula.
So to you better understand: none of those are safety dates.
“Best if Used By/Before” date indicates the be of best flavor or quality of a product.
“Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management.
“Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. (Except Infant Formula)
“Freeze-By” date indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality.
What you can do?
Eat your left overs. Plan meals ahead and cook it. Buy only what you need. The next time, before throwing food away try to smell it, look at it, taste it or freeze it! Always remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
How long after the expiration date is it good? For example: when frozen meat or fish can last up to 6 months, cereal 4 months, milk 5 days, cans, jars, dry pasta and beans 1 year!
Why is that important?
Food rotting in landfills creates methane gas. This is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. When you reduce food waste you reduce your gas footprint and help the environment.
In the US, around 37 million people live in food insecure homes. That means they don’t have enough healthy food to eat. The Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 to 40% of fruits and vegetables go to waste every year. Food security can prevent kid’s mental and physical development delays and prevent illness like diabetes. So instead of buying food you’ll end up not eating how about to give back to the community and donate to local food pantries?
Buying food that you will waste means waste of money that you could spend in other things or use to help other people.
Learn more about:
Food Product Dating | Food Safety and Inspection Service (usda.gov)
The Food Waste Problem | Harvard Magazine
Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org)