Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is It Safe To Eat

There's been a little bit of controversy lately about expiration dates.Is it OK to eat food a day, a week a month, even a year past its' use by date? does it on the item?depend ?Or the fussiness of a wary home chef? The answers may surprise you.

We Americans are somewhat paranoid about the blue stamped dates on the bottom of our containers and bottles. Even British comedian John Oliver commented on it on his HBO show This Week Tonight According to him we throw away nearly 730 football stadiums full of food per annum. It all has to do with our squeamishness about those darn sell by dates. To be honest , we don't have to. Of course dairy should be thrown out . The smell of sour milk alone can stink up any fridge and kitchen, Old dairy products can cause food poisoning. However if it's unopened and only a day or two past the sell by date it's still OK to eat. Cheese can more or less last up to four months depending on the kind Parmesan, Asiago and Romano can be kept for this amount of time. The semi soft ones like Brie and Camembert should be kept only two to four weeks. Butter can last a month before turning while margarine has a further run at four to five months. Ice cream should only be kept three months after opening however I've had no problem with ones opened six months  ago. The texture will be very gritty and icy but still edible. Unopened sodas like Coke and Pepsi can last six to nine months.

What about all those sell by and eat by warnings? A "sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.It's not mandatory .It's just a guide to tell the retailer when the food is at its' freshest and best tasting. The  can be eaten weeks afterwards. There is also the "best used by" date which refers to quality not safety. For example sour cream is already sour however it has a zingier taste when it's fresher.Born on date is the date the item was brewed or baked.Guaranteed fresh is used for baked goods. You can still eat then  after the date but it will be less fresher or even stale. Many even buy the staler breads and cakes because their prices are usually slashed almost down to half.Use by is for foodstuffs and items and it's is the last date recommended while at peak quality.  The deciding date is up to the manufacturer to decide this. Last is the pack by date and usually found on canned and tinned goods. This is a tricky date and can go by month -year - day or even stranger, by the Julian calendar not used in this country (or worldwide for that matter) since the  mid 1700's. A can of beans can have a date of 090912 or 009-999.The best method to determine of a canned food is still OK to eat is look at the can.If it has a normal shape it's fine. If it 's bulging or even growing then toss. Bacteria is a living thing that grows and expands. It will stretch out the can to accommodate itself.

So when food is OK to eat and when  should it be tossed. Use your senses as a guide If it looks, smells and tastes bad, toss it . If not then it's still viable to use. Whtever you do, don't waste good food. There are some people out there who would die for stale bread and expired milk.

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