Food 'Sell-By' And Expiration Dates Are Confusing; This Guide Can Help

Food 'Sell-By' And Expiration Dates Are Confusing; This Guide Can Help
When it comes to expiration dates and determining if food is safe to eat, it’s better to trust your own common sense than rely on information that is not always accurate. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sick, but we have to draw the line somewhere if America is going to continue to throw away billions of pounds of food each year due to misleading food labels . Thankfully, Mayo Clinic offers up a guide for sell-by dates.“Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe,” wrote experts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic in a 2013 report . “The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.”Researchers from Harvard Law School examined expiration dates in the United States and found that they were both confusing and inconsistent. They said the American labeling system is actually an inventory tool that helps manufacturers cycle through their products, as opposed to a safety measure. Unfortunately, the team found that a lack of federal standards regarding expiration dates has led to widespread food waste.”Under the current patchwork of state and federal laws, consumers are left in the lurch, forced to decipher the differences between 'sell-by' and 'best if used by,' and too often food is either thrown out prematurely, or families wind up consuming dangerous or spoiled food.” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) in a statement .So, next time you clean out your refrigerator and come across an expiration date that has passed, remember to use some common sense. If your food smells rotten, or has curdled or turned into any color other than the one it’s supposed to be, throw it away. Youtube

When it comes to expiration dates and determining if food is safe to eat, it’s better to trust your own common sense than rely on information that is not always accurate. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sick, but we have to draw the line somewhere if America is going to continue to throw away billions of pounds of food each year due to misleading food labels. Thankfully, Mayo Clinic offers up a guide for sell-by dates.

“Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe,” wrote experts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic in a 2013 report. “The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.”

Researchers from Harvard Law School examined expiration dates in the United States and found that they were both confusing and inconsistent. They said the American labeling system is actually an inventory tool that helps manufacturers cycle through their products, as opposed to a safety measure. Unfortunately, the team found that a lack of federal standards regarding expiration dates has led to widespread food waste.

”Under the current patchwork of state and federal laws, consumers are left in the lurch, forced to decipher the differences between 'sell-by' and 'best if used by,' and too often food is either thrown out prematurely, or families wind up consuming dangerous or spoiled food.” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) in a statement.

So, next time you clean out your refrigerator and come across an expiration date that has passed, remember to use some common sense. If your food smells rotten, or has curdled or turned into any color other than the one it’s supposed to be, throw it away.

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