Monday, February 23, 2009

Are expired foods safe to eat?

With the increase in bargain food outlets, and saving money overall, many have questions over the safety of consuming foods past their expiration date. Here’s how to unlock the meaning behind food product coding and dating, and how to avoid purchasing potentially unsafe food.

· “Use by,” “ Best if used by” dates– means the last date the food is likely to be at peak flavor and quality. Cereals and other dry packed foods have these date terms. The food may often decline in flavor and quality (nutrition, taste, color, texture) after this date, but it doesn’t mean it is unsafe.
· “Sell by” tells the retailer the last day the product should be sold. You should buy it before this date, but don’t have to use it by then. Milk and yogurt have sell by dates, and if stored properly, up to 1 week after the use by date.
· “Expiration” For most foods this is the last date they should be eaten or used. Eggs are the exception: if properly stored (refrigerated under 40 degrees F) graded eggs should last 3-5 weeks after the expiration.
· “Coded date”- a series a numbers and/or letters manufacturers use to track foods. It is not meant as a use by date.
· Canned foods– store in clean, dry cool , below 85 degrees F, cabinets to preserve quality. Throw out cans that are leaking, bulging, badly dented– especially a seam, cracked jars or have loose or bulging lids, or have a foul odor. High acid foods are safe for 12-18 months (fruits, tomato products, sauerkraut, vinegar based foods). Low acid foods are safe for 2-5 years, but quality (nutrition, taste, color, texture) often declines after 2 years (vegetables, meats, soups, pasta products).
· Deli meats & prepared foods, leftover combination foods, opened canned foods– most can be stored up to 3 days refrigerated. After 3 days, freeze or throw out. Eat the first day after defrosted.
· Frozen foods– follow expiration dates- this is last day the food should be eaten or used. Look for ice crystals, torn packages, or stains on packages as indications food was not properly held frozen.
· Keep Safe Temperatures– place a thermometer near the front to monitor refrigerators and freezers. Keep refrigerators at 34-39 degrees F; freezers 0 degrees F or less.

Sources: www.fsis.usda.gov. For more information on food safety check www.fightbac.org

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for adding your valuable information here. Really nice of you. Keep in touch and have a nice day ahead.

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