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Bogus Food Expiration Dates Make You Waste Food

Throwing away food because of a sell by date is wasteful and expensive.

This article originally appeared on FREE in the US

If you’ve ever wondered whether drinking milk past its expiration date or eating canned soup that haunted your pantry for years was going to make you sick, you’re not alone. Consumers throw away about half of the $218 billion worth of food wasted each year in the US—or about $375 per person—often because they’re confused about the dates stamped on their food.

“Most consumers think you shouldn’t eat food past the expiration date,” said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union. “But that’s not true because the best by dates just address food taste or quality, not safety.” While you should never eat mold, illnesses caused by e.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella are typically a result of improper food handling, improper hand washing or eating undercooked meat.

Most food is safe for a lot longer than you think. Shelf-stable and frozen foods can last indefinitely so tossing that frozen pizza from last year is a huge waste. Same for dry foods like pasta, crackers and nuts. When in doubt, use your sense of sight, smell and texture to determine if your food is still good, Jessica Crandall, a registered dietary nutritionist in Denver, Colorado, suggests.

Here’s more common sense advice from the Mayo Clinic, the New York Times, and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, among others, on how long you can safely keep food, how to keep it fresh longer, and when it’s time to toss it.

Bacon: safe up to one week after package is opened

Bread: toss when moldy. To make it last longer, freeze slices and toast them to defrost.

Canned food: up to five years

Cheese: hard cheese like cheddar or swiss is safe to eat even if there is a spot of mold (just cut it off). Soft cheeses should be tossed if visibly moldy.

Cereal: safe indefinitely

Chicken: raw chicken breasts are good in the refrigerator for up to two days, cooked chicken breasts should last four days. If it smells bad or looks slimy, throw it out

Eggs: refrigerate more than a month (here’s how to tell if you have a good egg)

Fruits and vegetables: unless it is clearly spoiled (slimy or moldy) there’s no need to toss it

Hard salami: cut off mold and use

Honey: safe to eat indefinitely

Hot sauce: good for at least a year or more

Meat: discard if meat is slimy, sticky tacky to touch or has an off odor. Color change does not always mean the meat has spoiled

Milk: five days after the date stamped on the carton, sour milk is still good for baking

Oils: olive oil is good for one year if stored in a dark cool place; vegetable oil is good for a year

Spices: safe for many years

Yogurt: good for a couple weeks past date on carton if no mold

If you want to preserve food that is about to go bad a little longer, freeze it or check out this guide for turning browning bananas into banana bread, using watermelon rind to make soup, and making tea from apple core and peels.

The Art of Blogging

Do you want to be a successful blogger? Do ideas for posts randomly pop into your head whenever, wherever? Do you think about ways to improve your blog?

How to write more? Better? Faster?

Do you study what the most successful bloggers have done to get to where they are right now?

You are not alone. I do this too. It’s one of my passions. To see what makes the difference. What works, what doesn’t, and to understand the why. Because of this, I can write cute posts like this one.

Here are the seven best habits to have as a blogger.

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