Today’s Solutions: January 21, 2022

When the food in your fridge is past the “best by” or “sell by” dates, what do you do with it? Toss it out? If you are like most Americans, you’re probably throwing it out for your own safety. According to a new study, the problem is that most people believe wrongly that food product dates are federally regulated and indicate the point after which the food is no longer safe to eat. Neither is true. Let’s clear up some misunderstandings regarding expiration dates. First, “best by” refers to when a food is at peak flavor or quality, and “sell by” indicates how long a store should sell or display a product for inventory management reasons. Got it? Good. But when should you throw something out? If proper spoilage isn’t evident, use your senses: spoilage batteries will typically produce a noticeable change in odor, flavor or texture. If none of these have developed, it’s probably safe to keep your food.

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