Have you ever gone grocery shopping with a friend or family member? Did you help pick out the meat your family would eat? How about milk and eggs? Maybe you picked out a loaf of bread or a bag of apples. If you paid much attention to any of these items, you may have seen a special date stamped across them. What are we talking about? Expiration dates, of course!
Many people find expiration dates very helpful. When shopping, most people try to buy food with expiration dates that are farther away. They believe this gives them more time to eat the food before it spoils. However, there’s a lot of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean. How are these dates determined?
There’s no blanket process for setting expiration dates. Instead, food manufacturers and retailers determine these dates as they see fit. They may take many factors into consideration. They’ll think about the characteristics of the particular food as well as its packaging. The temperature at which the food will be stored is also an important factor.
But what happens when a food’s expiration date arrives? Does it spoil? Should it be thrown out? Is it safe to eat food past its expiration date?
Most of the time, food is safe to eat after its expiration date, as long as it doesn’t show other signs of spoiling. In fact, most expiration dates aren’t meant to be the date on which food will go bad. Instead, they’re meant to be general guidelines for how long items will maintain their quality.