Food Expiration Dates: Eat it or Leave it?

Had fun doing an interview with our local television station KIVI.  Check out the video link HERE.
Expiration date cover

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Glaze Grilled Salmon 2We’ve all been tempted to serve food that’s reached or exceeded its expiration date.  Just this past weekend I was about to use some opened feta cheese with an expiration date of April 2, 2015 ; that’s over six weeks ago.  It actually smelled AND tasted ok.  Should I have used it?  According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the shelf life/safety of soft cheeses that have been opened is one to two weeks.  Luckily I chose not to use it, opting to buy fresh.  When you doubt a food’s freshness or safety, especially perishable foods, it’s always best to toss it out.  Food-borne illnesses from bacteria that grow undetected e.g. have no smell or visual change, can be deadly.   Most bacteria, fungus or mold are detectable, so let your nose and eyes be the judge.

foodkeeper-logoRecently I’ve learned about a handy app for the iphone and android phones called FoodKeeper developed by the USDA and introduced in April of this year.  It shows by category how long a food can keep in the refrigerator or freezer.  This app would have been helpful in deciding whether to use the feta cheese or not.  You choose a category, then click on a food within the category to find out how long you can keep it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Another handy tool is a “Shelf Life of Food” food expiration chart developed by which shows the shelf life of common foods that are unopened, uncut or uncooked unless stated otherwise.  As you study it you might be surprised that some things can last longer than you think.  We’re all quick to toss a food if it is past its expiration date, but that attitude has lead to a food waste of over 36 pounds of food thrown away per person per month.  That’s a lot of food.  We should work to use up the food we purchase in a timely manner, freeze what we’re not going to use and become familiar with common use by dates to help reduce waste.

Food Expiration Chart



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