For example, a bag of chips five days past its “Use by” date might not be as crisp as they once were. Fruits and vegetables with “Freeze by” dates should be frozen by those dates to preserve their taste. And “Sell by” dates? Those are set by retailers. They simply tell stores how long to keep products on the shelf. None of these mean that food is unsafe after a given date. The only exception to this rule is baby formula, which loses nutritional value after its “Use by” date.
How can people tell if their food is still good past its expiration date? Experts agree that it’s best to rely on your senses. In most cases, food will smell and taste bad if it’s spoiled. Many items will also look different if they’ve gone bad. Spoiled foods might grow mold or change colors. If any of these signs are present, the food should not be eaten.
Many people misunderstand expiration dates. They throw out food after the printed date without looking for any signs of spoilage. This is a major contributor to the issue of food waste. Experts estimate that Americans throw out 30-40 percent of the food they buy. Of course, some food waste is due to food actually going bad. However, properly checking food for spoilage instead of relying on expiration dates helps people cut back on waste.
That carton of milk sitting in the refrigerator? Give it a good sniff before you throw it out! Often, milk is still usable for up to a week after its printed expiration date. And the same goes for many other foods, especially those that are canned or frozen. When it comes to food safety, trust your senses!