Ignore Expiration Dates

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Slate has written a great article about the usefulness and expectations of expiration dates on food and drink.  I have always wondered about how reliable and/or accurate expirations dates truly are.

The fact is that expiration dates mean very little. Food starts to deteriorate from the moment it's harvested, butchered, or processed, but the rate at which it spoils depends less on time than on the conditions under which it's stored. Moisture and warmth are especially detrimental. A package of ground meat, say, will stay fresher longer if placed near the coldest part of a refrigerator (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit), than next to the heat-emitting light bulb. Besides, as University of Minnesota food scientist Ted Labuza explained to me, expiration dates address quality—optimum freshness—rather than safety and are extremely conservative. To account for all manner of consumer, manufacturers imagine how the laziest people with the most undesirable kitchens might store and handle their food, then test their products based on these criteria.

Link - via yahoo

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by KillerBee.


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yeah, they are guideline, so don't ignore them. You don't know how long and in what condition some packaged foods were in before getting to the store. Honestly, why take the chance? Even if it's "safe" to eat, isn't something with an earlier date 'fresher', thus tastier, at least?
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Eggs are best for frying when fresh, and best for boiling after you've had them for more than a week. Not because they spoil, but because of what's going on in the egg. I kind of went through an egg phase once...

anyway, I'm extremely conservative about my food. The power of suggestion and all.
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I once bought a package of frozen salmon. My wife cooked it for dinner one night and it was like eating cardboard. There was a coupon in the package for cents off a future purchase. It was dated to expire two years before I bought it. I look at the package and it had a use date of 5 years before ! I bought it to the attention of my grocery store and the food processor. The store gave me a $25 gift card and the food company sent me coupons for two free items. I'd have rather had fresher salmon in the first place.
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It's not really an "expiration" date as much as it is a "sell by" date.

I usually throw out the milk jug when the milk smells sour after being poured into a glass (there is always a bit around the jug mouth that makes it impossible to smell just by sniffing the top). I keep eggs for over a month, the older they are the easier they are to cook with. I usually buy them in bulk (waaay cheaper that way) and so they sit on the bottom shelf of the fridge, which in my case is right above the freezer.
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