1. Is an expired food product safe for consumption?
One of the surrounding discoveries about expiry dates that you will learn today is that expiration date refers to "quality" and not how safe the product is for consumption.
So, while a food product that has expired may look unusual or smell just a tad bit off, it will not necessarily pose any danger to your health if you eat it.
However, if the food product was not correctly stored and has become contaminated, there is a high chance that eating it may cause food poisoning. But that is pretty much the same as any food product!
2. Then, why are there even food expiration dates?
Believe it or not, expiration dates are not necessary. However, it can be assumed that the food and health regulatory bodies all over the world make it imperative so that it can serve as a source of protection for people and perhaps a remembrance that food may not always be safe for eating.
According to the USDA, however, expiration dates on food aren't required by the federal government. Although some states do need it, and there are dating regulations when it comes to infant formula.
3. Different expiration dates have different meanings
There are many terms used to classify expiration dates. These include but are not limited to: "Sell-by," "Best if used by" and "Used by."
While these appear similar, they have slightly different meanings and are not meant to be safety dates for the food (other than infant formula), but rather describe its quality.
A "Sell-by" date is geared more toward the retailer, indicating to them when they should rotate products off the shelves.
A "Best if used by" date is an indicator of quality (the food will not go "bad" after this date), while a "Use-by" date is the last day the manufacturer recommends using the product based on quality, not safety.
4. How long will my food last if it expires?
There is no definite answer to this because there are a large variety of food products handled all over the world. However, the USDA recommends that you use products that display the "use-by date" by that time.
For sell-by dates that go past at home, you can continue to store the food for a short amount of time, depending on what it is.
5. Can food lose its nutritional value before it's expired?
There is also no definite answer for this, with the significant factor being the type of food it is. Some foods can maintain their nutritional value even long after been opened while some can't.
However, nothing beats eating fresh foods off the farm!