Monday, May 13, 2013

Fresh? Safe? What is this Date?


Terms the industry uses to describe "peak freshness" dates.

Sell By:  These are products usually made in store and this sell by date means the staff should pull the item on this date.  You should purchase these items before this date.
Best by:  This about quality not freshness or staleness.  Best by date means PEAK taste and looks.
Use By:  determined by the manufacturer to get you to use the product at its best taste.  
These dates are about best taste and looks of the product to get you to like them and purchase their product again.  These dates are not about freshness or nutrition.  The only food that must be guaranteed fresh is infant formula and some baby foods.  States may have more requirements as to pulling dairy from shelves but these 'freshness' dates are voluntary.   
Milk is good for a week after the sell by date.  Although I keep milk to sour on purpose for certain cakes. 
Eggs are good for 3 to 5 weeks after the sell by date.  
Meats, poultry and fish should be cooked or frozen within a day of purchase.
The expiration date on foods like orange juice and even milk aren't indicators of when those products will go bad.Canned goods:  Highly acidic (tomato based, citrus juice) are good for about eighteen months.  Low acid foods like green beans are good for 4-5 years as long as you don't store them in a hot garage or crawl space.  
To contradict everything I just stated, posted on government and makers' web sites, here is an article referencing sixty year old canned corn!

    I guess under the right circumstances, I would test old corn.  Here are some of the signs of botulism.  Botulism (Latinbotulus, "sausage") (pronounced /ˈbɒʉlɪzəm/) is, in humans, a rare but sometimes fatalparalytic illness. Foodborne botulism is an intoxication caused by consuming food contaminated with thebotulinum toxin; it is not passed on from person to person when the skin is intact.

See how difficult to read the date?
mark it yourself!
      What I suggest is even if there are freshness dates or sell by dates on cans, boxes or other containers, that you practice the LILO method of grocery  shelf stocking.  LILO is Last In Last Out.  When You purchase a flat of vegetables store these most recently purchased cans on the bottom shelf of your larder, rotating older to the top.  

      You could mark these cans with a purchase date or devise a system of dots or dashes to denote the year they must be consumed.  You could use a permanent marker and mark them 2016, or what ever the date.  Make a system of reminders and stick with it.  I have some very paranoid people in my circle who will be marking cans with dots and some almost paranoid people who will make up a code just for fun.  Whatever or why ever, just tell someone what the dots are for and Eat your way through your larder safely as you replace it.  

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