How meaningful is the expiration dates on food?

Me and my fiancee like to buy a lot of our foods in bulk. Mostly boxed pasta, canned food, etc. Most of these foods have expiration dates printed on them, but I was wondering how accurate these dates are? Shouldn’t canned food and pasta have a longer shelf life?

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5 Responses to “How meaningful is the expiration dates on food?”

  1. Teri D said:

    I consider it a guideline, not a barrier. Sometimes the dates are intended to tell you when the food is the freshest, or will have the typical preparation. Maybe after that date the pasta would need to be cooked a little longer, or maybe the nutrients start declining after that point. Canned food you have to be careful with because it can contain botulism, which would result in a bulging can and possibly rust. If in doubt, I throw it away!

  2. I like mopeds said:

    well the ratio can be greater than other foods, they just write the date because they might become stale, but that is affected by the enviroment more, if you keep it in a cool temperature they should last a little longer than the expiration date, but you will not get sick from them even if they are stale, they will just taste bad

  3. clovis a said:

    Well, your local Health Department is the place to file such a complaint, their inspectors have the power and authority to enforce the health code. Listen to Zebra Rider.

    However, you must bear in mind that under most state health codes, as well as under the guidelines recommended by the FDA, in many cases it is perfectly legal to sell “outdated” food products.

    This requires a brief explanation. Food products are divided into two categories: potentially hazardous and non-potentially hazardous.

    Potentially hazardous foods are foods which, if outdated, could cause illness. Milk is considered such a food. So are eggs and meat. Expiration dates on these products must be followed by the stores, and it is generally illegal to sell such a product if expired.

    On the other hand dry pasta, crackers, chocolate, candy, pickles, or canned foods, are all NPH. This means that no matter how stale the product becomes, it will never be an actual hazard to health. Such products are often marked “best used by” or “sell by,” but these are not the same as a true expiration date. These date codes are intended to indicate when the product will be best to taste, but sale after the date indicated is often still permitted.

    Different states will have different requirements as to the sale of outdated foods. Dating is not mandated under federal regulations, but rather by the state health departments. Many states require that these foods be separated and clearly marked. Other states may not have this requirement.

    A typical state law for sale of “out-dated” food is as follows:

    “Sale of Past Date Food Products: No person shall offer for sale in the commonwealth any food product after the expiration of a “sell by date” or a “best if used by date” unless:
    (1) It is wholesome and its sensory physical qualities have not significantly diminished; and,
    (2) It is segregated from food products which are not “past date”; and,
    (3) It is clearly and conspicuously marked either on the package or through the use of shelf markers or place cards, as being offered for sale after the recommended last date of sale or best use.”

    It can be difficult for a lay-person to know whether the date code they are looking at is a true expiration date, or simply a recommended sale date, since frequently the phrase “sell by” is used in both cases. Your local health department will be able to offer you more information.

    Of course, if you know of stores which are violating the law, the health department will want to have one of their food inspectors check the situation. If the violations are serious enough, a health officer may be assigned to pursue charges, but this is unlikely in the event it turns out to be simple carelesness (the real crimes start when stores forge and conceal the dates).

  4. jiggen said:

    if you want to have the best quality of the food that you will buy you should do an effective investigation on your part before purchasing these products.

    determine the type of food product dating.

    open dating – these are usually used on perishable goods such as meat, poultry products, eggs and dairies. this gives you the actual date when to consume the product.
    (a) use by date – the manufacturer state the best date of it’s peak quality.use the product by this date.
    (b) sell by date – buy the product before the stated date. after the product is opened it should be consumed immediately.
    (c) best before date – recommends for the best flavor or quality. this is not a purchase or safety date. you should ask directly the manufacturer what is the best date to consume their products, because mostly some of the ingredients may affect the others and the optimum quality as expected is not meet by the date stated.

    closed or coded dating – may appear on more shelf-stable foods, such as cans and boxes.

    this is a sample tip on how to decode closed dating

    “For month coding, if a number is used, numbers 1 through 9 represent January through September, and letters O for October, N for November and D for December. If letters are used, A=January and L=December, unless otherwise noted. For year coding, 8=1998; 9=1999; 0=2000; 1=2001; 2=2002, etc.”

    in purchasing foods read the label carefully. most of the goods that is new are at the bottom or at the back of other late product it worth to dig the new ones.

    in storing the food be sure to mark it the date and time it was opened.
    observe “FIFO” first in first out
    if you can’t consume a perishable goods store it in freezing temperature.
    never refrigerate canned goods this will split the can or break glass containers.

    handle your foods carefully. don’t leave your food at room temperature more than 2 hours. don’t mix the cooked foods at the container that was used for the raw or uncooked.wash your hands in preparing the food.

    here are some sites that will give you guidelines about this topic
    http://www.mealtime.org/default.aspx?id=331
    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/dont_freeze_foods.html
    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/dont_freeze_foods.html
    also you can search the net for inquiries about their product like this site.
    http://www.duncanhines.com/DHAbout/productFAQ.asp#1

  5. Ankit said:

    YEs that advice of opeinng a new account is good.. I had my account frozen for several weeks , during which I could not pay for purchases through ebay.. I used my birth name, and my cellphone number to open another account so I could pay my bills. I don’t know how you could use your old credit card on a new account, but I would advise against using a credit card anyways with Paypal.. rather, get a refillable non-credit Visa and use your middle name instead of first . I don’t know about donate button, but ask other bloggers with ~ donate button how they do it.. This all *may* help..




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