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Food expiration dates are sometimes arbitrary and not science-based


gfweb
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There are expiration dates on packages of salt.   Ancient seabed salt is labeled with expiration dates.   If that doesn't break your brain, I don't know what will.

Edited by lemniscate (log)
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Over the last few weeks, several UK supermarket chains have announced that they are abandoning such "best before dates" on a wide range of their food stocks in a bid to reduce food waste and hence greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Quote

Did you know that food waste accounts for more global greenhouse gas emissions than aviation?

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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arbitrary food waste is unconscionable

 

Big Food does benefit from it 

 

you then re-buy

 

more useful information thus wont come from Big Food

 

expect BF to resist constructive and helpful changes .

 

changing labels adds to their costs

 

and reduced sales.

 

 

Edited by rotuts (log)
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in @gfweb interesting reference 

 

"" The FDA considers some products “potentially hazardous foods” if they have characteristics that allow microbes to flourish, such as moisture and an abundance of nutrients that feed microbes. These foods include chicken, milk, and sliced tomatoes ""

 

is there something unique to tomatoes vs other cut fruit // veg 

 

that gets them on this list ?

 

or is it simply there are more sliced tomatoes around

 

than other fruit and veg ?

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My pet peeves are with the old people here who do not understand food safety or storage condition factors. The expiration dates are meaningless if you do brilliant things like double dipping on refrigerated items + leaving them out on the counter, or if you go to several stores, get milk & put it in the trunk to cook while you drive around - golly gosh maybe it will not last to expiration stated. As to waste in general, when I return from market she asked if there were "baahgains" and looks at me like I've grown a second head when I say for the umteenth time that I only buy what I need and will use and is reasonably priced.  Cue rotting bananas, milk down drain, and on and on. Oh and then complain about cost of food.  

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3 minutes ago, rotuts said:

in @gfweb interesting reference 

 

"" The FDA considers some products “potentially hazardous foods” if they have characteristics that allow microbes to flourish, such as moisture and an abundance of nutrients that feed microbes. These foods include chicken, milk, and sliced tomatoes ""

 

is there something unique to tomatoes vs other cut fruit // veg 

 

that gets them on this list ?

 

or is it simply there are more sliced tomatoes around

 

than other fruit and veg ?

Tomatoes did tickle something from childhood about botulism and improperly canned 'maters - nothing to do with the above but "old wive's tales" can linger.

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1 hour ago, rotuts said:

in @gfweb interesting reference 

 

"" The FDA considers some products “potentially hazardous foods” if they have characteristics that allow microbes to flourish, such as moisture and an abundance of nutrients that feed microbes. These foods include chicken, milk, and sliced tomatoes ""

 

is there something unique to tomatoes vs other cut fruit // veg 

 

that gets them on this list ?

 

or is it simply there are more sliced tomatoes around

 

than other fruit and veg ?

 

 

M y completely unscientific memory can't recall a tomato recall.  Lots of spinach and romaine t hough.

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32 minutes ago, rotuts said:

' sliced tomato '

 

vs sliced zucchini ?

 

etc.?

 

I agree. Seems weird.

 

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2 hours ago, rotuts said:

in @gfweb interesting reference 

 

"" The FDA considers some products “potentially hazardous foods” if they have characteristics that allow microbes to flourish, such as moisture and an abundance of nutrients that feed microbes. These foods include chicken, milk, and sliced tomatoes ""

 

is there something unique to tomatoes vs other cut fruit // veg 

 

that gets them on this list ?

 

or is it simply there are more sliced tomatoes around

 

than other fruit and veg ?


I’d say that was just the choice of the article author or her editors to use, “…these foods include…” with a few examples of foods that specifically require dating.  I don’t believe the newspaper was attempting to present a comprehensive listing. Lots of items like meats, fish and seafood are all considered potentially hazardous and subject to dating requirements and it would be tedious to list every one. 


 

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Here is an interesting discussion

 

Storage of tomatoes.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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3 minutes ago, chileheadmike said:

According to my wife, milk turns to poison on the exact date printed on the carton. 

Best test -if it curdles in your coffee- adios

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1 hour ago, chileheadmike said:

According to my wife, milk turns to poison on the exact date printed on the carton. 

Strangely, although I am one of those people who becomes ridiculously over cautious about food expiration dates, I have never given it a thought where milk or cream are concerned. The smell test has always been enough for me. It pre-dates expiration dates by many decades. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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7 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

8 hours ago, palo said:

 

The first article seems to be referring to items like root veggie and fruits like citrus, apples and grapes. They mostly talk about removing dates from fresh fruit and veg. 

 

Am I missing something here? I don't think I've ever seen a 'best-by' or a 'use-by' date on an apple here in my local stores. Or any produce at all, unless it's been processed somehow. Are they saying that all produce in the UK is/was dated that way?

 

I do see 'packaged-on' dates on some things here, like packaged romaine hearts from California or some packaged tomatoes, but most produce is not packaged. 

 

 

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the FDA/USDA/et.al. have one, and only one, item that requires an expiration date - and that is baby formula.

the FDA/USDA does not require best/use by dating on any other product whatsoever.

some states have laws which typically concern dairy products, but no state has a law requiring an expiration date on salt, for example....

 

shell eggs are the next "best" example, - but only if they display the USDA grading shield.  not all supermarkets sell eggs that have the UDSA shield for grading . . . .

note that for eggs, sell by/best by dates are _not_ required, only pack dates. but if sell by/use by dates are printed on the carton, "sell by" is 30 days from packing date and "use by"/"Best by" dates are 42 days from pack date.

 

all other dates the determination of the maker/packer as to when the product will still be at it's best quality.

bit of iffy's there - but dem's the laws.

 

meats wrapped in a tray ? ? ?  good luck - you're on your own to trust any date on the label....

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8 hours ago, gfweb said:

 

 

M y completely unscientific memory can't recall a tomato recall.  Lots of spinach and romaine t hough.

Recalls for ecolli and friends are indeed different from "best by" dates that may encourage the timid to toss viable, even palatable food.

eGullet member #80.

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41 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Recalls for ecolli and friends are indeed different from "best by" dates that may encourage the timid to toss viable, even palatable food.

My post was responding to the FDA link saying that sliced tomatoes were liable to growing bugs. Not exactly a sell-by date issue. 

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Regarding sell-by dates (apologies, @gfweb), I have three daughters, all of whom are kitchen-challenged. One doesn’t cook (her husband does); one specializes in hamburger helper, and the third lives with me and doesn’t even try. 
 

I asked Child C, who with fam was coming to dinner, to stop and pick up a roll of foil. She said she had a roll and would bring it.

 

When she got here she handed it to me and said, “Mom, I think this foil may be expired.”

 

 

Edited by kayb (log)
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Don't ask. Eat it.

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w/r/t the date on the salt-  My bet is it is there to head off complaints when it cakes or melts back into a single huge lump of salt.  I bet some lab exposed the cardboard tube the salt is sold in to "high average" household humidity conditions and came up with an amount of time that it would protect the salt inside from absorbing enough water to be a problem.  Regarding expiry on other stuff, I've never paid attention to it.  Milk especially... some milk last a week past date and is fine.  Some milk goes funky 4 or 5 days before the date.  Just have to be attentive to your dairy... Smell tests and coffee curdling test beat a date stamp any day. 

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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