“Sell by,” “best used by,” “Expiration date” – those are labels that appear on everything from my eggs to my milk to my lunch meat. How can I keep from poisoning my family with spoiled food? -Rotten Egg in Ohio
Dear Rotten Egg,
We could get real simple here and say if it doesn’t pass the smell test then throw it out. After all, you appear to be a mother and thus nature awarded you a prize winning nose. But, your question is too important for Dear Foodie to be at all snarky. A little known fact is that the US government doesn’t require these dates to be placed on food. Only in the case of infant formula is there the requirement of an expiration date and that the foods be removed from the grocery shelf upon reaching it. For all the rest of us, it is buyer beware. Regarding common foods like eggs, they will likely last longer than the “best by…” date if refrigerated properly. If not refrigerated properly and if they get too warm, you could have a bigger problem and end up being an urban farmer and raising baby chickens! Milk lasts a week more than likely past its date, hard cheeses for a few months and yogurt, 10 days past the “date.” You can always freeze items such as raw meat which will make it good for up to a year. At the end of the day, Dear Foodie must return to what may appear to be a bit on the snarky side. Your nose knows as they say and while it may seem old fashioned, that is probably your last defense. Oh, and your eyes play a role. Don’t eat anything that crawls or has a disembodied human thumb inside. That takes some common sense.