Author Topic: The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates  (Read 305 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates
« on: April 03, 2014, 11:06:53 AM »
http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2014/04/the-problem-with-sell-by-dates/?soc=dishsocial_20140403_21227104

The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates
by Amy Reiter in News, April 1st, 2014

When you clean out your fridge or pantry, some things obviously need to go. That old cheese that’s sprouted a greenish-black tuft of hair? That ancient container of broccoli that smells like something you’d rather not describe — or ever smell again? Those clearly belong in the garbage can — outside — several yards away.

But what about the foods that look and smell fine, but have “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” “best-before” or “enjoy-by” dates that have come and gone? You should probably pitch those, too, right?

Not so fast. While most of us probably treat the dates on our food packaging as gospel, they are, it turns out, highly unreliable indicators of freshness. “Basically made up,” Smithsonian Magazine says. “Unclear” and “useless,” the Washington Post sniffs. “Inconsistent and confusing,” Climate Progress notes.

In a report released in September 2013 by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America,” the authors point out that dates on food labels that purport to tell us whether its contents are fresh, or — uh — not so fresh, are “surprisingly under-regulated.”

Federal food-dating standards are sparse — dating is mandated only on infant formula — and state and local laws vary. For instance, only some states require that perishable foods like milk be sold prior to their expiration dates. As a consequence, labeling practices are wildly inconsistent and consumers cannot rely on them — and amidst this confusion, a lot of people throw away an awful lot of perfectly good food.

The authors of the Harvard/NRDC report have called for clearer standards and greater regulation, but in the meantime, how are you to know when to throw out your food and when to keep it around?

The website Eat By Date provides helpful information on the shelf lives of perishables, including dairy products, drinks, fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog also offers guidance. And you can always just follow your nose.


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Offline Oceander

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Re: The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 11:25:55 AM »
here's an incoherent example:  in NY State, milk has to be sold by a certain date in NYC, and for the rest of the state by a date that's 2 days later than the NYC date.  Apparently, there's something in NYC that makes milk spoil faster than in the rest of the state - perhaps it's the level of lib-think pollution in the air?

Offline jmyrlefuller

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Re: The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 05:09:12 PM »
Especially for baked goods...

When they reach their sell-by date, they get picked up by the vendor, put right back in the boxes and sold to another store for a (usually much) lower price.
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Offline happyg

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Re: The Problem with “Sell-By” Dates
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2014, 10:57:10 PM »
Especially for baked goods...

When they reach their sell-by date, they get picked up by the vendor, put right back in the boxes and sold to another store for a (usually much) lower price.

True! I put stale donuts in the microwave to soften them again. When I was a teenager, I worked in a cheese factory. We would take molded cheese, cut the mold off for the cows, and recook the rest of the cheese. Back around the time of the Middle Ages, they did the same thing, only ate the good cheese after the mold was cut off.
You can do the same with jelly that molds on the top. Just scrape it off, and the rest of the jelly is good. It sounds bad, but if times get really bad, it's something to think about.


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