My wife gets irritated with both my daughter and I when we throw food in the trash that has been in the refrigerator days after the “use by” or “use before” date marked on the container.
Recently, my daughter and I tossed a jar of mayonnaise that had a “best if used by” date that expired thirty days before. We heard the Vicki lecture that there was nothing wrong with that jar of mayonnaise and that it was perfectly “good.” Vicki further pointed out to us that her research showed that jar of mayonnaise had at least thirty more days of life before it became unusable.
We, of course, scoffed at this obviously mistaken belief.
It turns out my wife is correct:
“Mayonaise: This was a surprise to me as I have thrown away many jars of the white stuff when I didn’t have to. Mayo will last up to 3 – 4 months after the expiration date as long as it was store bought and stored at the correct temperature after opening.” Erin Kennedy, My Thirty Spot
Upon further research we found some very interesting facts about food expiration dates and how those dates lead to waste. Unfortunately for us, this research proved that my wife has been right about the great “use by” debate for years.
“Food processing companies have a vested interest in being conservative with their quality dates. After all, their brand is at stake—you might think twice about Nabisco's quality control if you opened a package of stale Oreos.
‘[Expiration dates are] all about the brand, protecting the brand," says Rissetto. ‘You can eat eggs like three weeks after the sell-by date.’”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources agrees. On the UNL Food blog, Alice Henneman and Joyce Jensen write, ‘For best quality, use eggs within 3 to 5 weeks of the date you purchase them. The 'sell-by' date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use.’" Healthway.com
So, what do you do to make sure the food is ok to eat? Trusting your senses is perfectly fine. If further proves how right my wife is on this subject.
The bottom line is the “use by” date should not dictate when you throw food out. Using your senses is a better guide on when to keep and when to toss.
“Your senses tell you way more about food safety than any label ever could.
It doesn't much matter what the labels say, at least not yet. The best way to determine when food is no good to eat is to do what animals have done since they crawled out of the primordial ooze: Trust your senses.
‘Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria," states that USDA fact sheet. "If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.’" Healthway.com
The bottom line is my wife was right. We should not throw away a food based on the “use by” or “best if used by” date. We can stop food waste by trusting our senses.
Stuart James, Publisher oneBlog