Do Expiration Dates Matter?

    I love cheese but don’t eat it very often because it goes straight to my thighs. And not in a good way. That’s why when I do buy it, I tend to forget about it until it sprouts mold spores and takes on a new life form in my crisper drawer. There’s no questioning when cheese has gone bad but what about the harder to gauge food items: like eggs. How do we know if a food has really gone bad or if we’re being scammed into throwing out perfectly edible foods?
    According to a 2011 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization on food waste, one-third of all the world’s food that is grown for consumption by humans is lost or wasted. Some of this loss occurs during the processing and distribution process. Produce is often discarded or destroyed because it’s imperfect and not pretty enough to go on display in stores. Or we throw it away because we think it’s old or gone bad.
    We may not be able to change the practices of food manufacturers but we most certainly should be questioning what they tell us. Did you know that the date stamped on food products was originally put there to help stores determine how long to keep a product on a shelf? I know many of you were probably thinking that food companies put dates on their products to keep consumers safe. Wrong! Production dates, or “sell by dates”, are used for business purposes while “use by dates” are used for—again, business purposes. Use by dates are merely suggestions. They suggest a time frame of when the product will be at its peak or best quality. After a date passes, the product may not be at its best, but can still be consumed if stored properly.

    The Wrap Up

    There are no set rules on how these dates are used and the government does not monitor this practice. We’ve got to start relying more on our common sense and less on companies and manufacturers to tell us what’s good and what’s not. So I say keep the eggs and throw out those old rules!
    If you’re still a little unsure, I’ve included a cheat sheet to help guide you. Baby steps.
    • Onions:
    They’ll last for 2-3 months in your pantry. Don’t store onions near potatoes – they’ll both spoil faster.
    • Apples:
    Will keep for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
    • Potatoes:
    Will last for 1-2 weeks at room temperature; 2-3 months in a cooler area.
    • Carrots:
    Will keep for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
    • Garlic:
    Will last for 3-5 months in a cool, well-ventilated area.
    • Celery:
    Will keep for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. Wrapping celery tightly in aluminum foil can help keep it fresh.
    • Oranges:
    They’ll keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. You can also keep oranges for a week at room temperature.
    • Broccoli & Cauliflower:
    Will keep for 1-2 weeks if you wash and then store in an airtight container with a small amount of water added.
    • Leafy Greens:
    You can extend the life by washing and the covering in damp paper towels and then seal in airtight container.
    • Eggs:
    Will keep 3-5 weeks in refrigerator and 1 year in freezer
    • Chicken:
    Will keep 1-2 days in refrigerator and 9 months in freezer when properly stored

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