Expiration Dates: What You Can Still Eat

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018

There is lots of processed foods that somehow manage to stay hidden in our pantries for months. Once you rediscover them, the question becomes: Are they still good to eat? The good news is that many foods last longer than you think. EAT SMARTER will tell you what the difference between shelf life and consumption date is.

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What Does The Packaging Tell Me?

All foods have to be labeled. Generally this date tells you how long you can eat something safely. Shelf life is generally the amount of time a manufacturer can guarantee perfect quality for foods. This refers to the foods nutritional value, taste and appearance. However, it does not necessarily mean that the food has actually gone bad once the date passes. On the other hand, the consumption date is generally used for perishable goods such as meat and poultry. It normally also specified how you should store this type of food. After the consumption date has passed, stores are no longer allowed to sell the food and you should not eat it past this date. If no expiration date can be found, you are probably looking at fresh foods such as fruits or vegetables or on the other hand products that stay good for a very long time such as alcohol, salt or sugar.

What Can I Still Eat?

In general you should sharpen your senses. If a food doesn’t small good, look moldy or tastes funny you probably should not eat it.

Pasta and rice belong to the dry foods that do not go back very quickly. They generally stay good for about one to two years if they remain unopened. Brown rice will start tasting rancid if it has gone bad. Do not eat egg noodles after the expiration date.

Jams and jellies can be eaten even after the expiration date if they have not been opened. However, you should use all of your senses to determine if it is really still good.

Milk: If you have UHT milk, the typical sour smell can be missing even after it has expired. Therefore you should better stick with the old rule: milk can stay good in the fridge for 3 days after being opened. If it is still closed, milk can stay good for a couple extra days past the expiration date.

Cereal: Cereal and oatmeal stay good for a very long time.

You can eat some foods even after the shelf life. These include nuts; however, do not eat them if they taste rancid or have become moist. Spices will loose aroma after about a year and at this point mold can start to form. Coffee can be consumed long after the expiration date, though it may not taste as good anymore. Tea can also be stored for many years; however, make sure it stays dry since it can form mold when moist.

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