Expiration dates and food safety

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Nobody likes to waste food. I know that many of you use food past the expiration date, its good much longer than this – right? Are you willing to bet your life on it?

Its one thing to go a bit past the expiration date if you are buying at a high-end place like Whole Foods, its an entirely other matter at the discount big box stores where corners are cut to keep prices low. About once a year, I have something go bad before the expiration date even while being properly refrigerated. Here is a particularly dangerous example. This fresh cut salsa went bad, really bad, 4 days before the expiration date.
Look at these two identical un-opened bottles of fresh cut salsa.
The one on the right is ready to explode. It was so bad that I carried it gently outside because I feared it would explode in the house and make a HUGE mess. The bulging sides and lid are a clear sign of botulism or other serious safety issues present in the container. Eating this would cause serious illness and perhaps even death.
So, should you use that food or throw it out? Even if its before the expiration date, check it over carefully: smell it, taste a little. Anything odd is cause for concern. After the expiration date, its your health and your call. If its fresh meat, dairy or produce – its risky. You think DOMS keeps you from having a good workout, try food poisoning!

3 thoughts on “Expiration dates and food safety”

  1. Haha, It's not just expiration dates too… I had a big tin of tuna and I ate about a third of it for breakfast on Saturday. I didn't put the leftovers in a plastic tupperware container, and instead just tossed it in the fridge.

    On Sunday morning I mixed the remaining 2 thirds with some veges and rice and went to eat it. I ate half of it and left the other half. Then I ate the remaining half for meal 2.

    Then come Sunday night… I got diarrhea. Come Wednesday and I STILL have diarrhea, resulting from a gastrointestinal infection from eating the bad tuna.

    BE VERY CAREFUL WITH YOUR FOODS GUYS

  2. Dear Scoobs,

    Here in the UK we have "use by" dates, which apply to things like meats, eggs, dairy, cheeses etcetera. It's illegal to sell items past this, and considered dangerous to eat.

    We also have "best before" for things like breads, fruits and tinned goods. These are legal to sell at discounted prices, provided you make it clear they are past their best but are generally considered safe if you use your common sense and don't eat obviously mouldy foods etc.

    It's a nice system which works really well.

    Not much point to this, other than to let you know really!

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