Should You Throw Away Expired Food?

Some of the foods you might be throwing away are perfectly safe to eat

Published On: Jan 17 2013 03:27:00 AM EST

When it comes to expiration dates on food packages, it can get a bit confusing to keep straight what foods are safe and for how long.

 Turns out some of the foods you might be throwing away are perfectly safe to eat.

 Most cases of food poisoning come from improper storage, not “expired” foods. This is especially true of those “sell by” dates.

According to NPR's The Salt, the sell by dates on food packaging have to do with a certain grade that the food gets:

     The experts give the food grades, in numbers. The numbers go down as the food gets older. Bread gets stale. Salad dressings can start to taste rancid.

 

    John Ruff, president of the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago, says the companies that sell this food take a look at those grades and decide where they will draw the line, to protect the reputation of their products.

 

WHEN DOES FOOD GO BAD

While you can use most of the foods past their printed date, the USDA recommends that you eat food before its "Use By" or "Best If Used By" date to be on the safe side. For foods with a "Sell By" date, you have a pretty set amount of time before the food goes bad. Milk will usually go bad about a week after the Sell By date, while eggs are okay for 3 to 5 weeks. See the table to the right for the USDA's recommendations, or head to their product dating page for even more foods.