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Beware of Tossing Food Too Soon

egg with expiration date

The “use by” dates stamped on food in grocery stores are contributing to millions of pounds of food being wasted every year, according to a new report from NRDC, largely because most consumers are confused what those dates really mean.

As a Time article this week put it:

“Most consumers mistakenly believe that expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume, when these dates actually aren’t related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness…The dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in the sense of becoming inedible.”

For example, eggs can be eaten 3 to 5 weeks after purchase, in spite of the much earlier “use by” date.

The Time article adds: “More than 90% of Americans throw out food prematurely, and 40% of the U.S. food supply is tossed–unused–every year because of food dating.”

Read “Is Your Food Expired? Don’t Be So Quick to Toss It” by Alexandra Sifferlin at


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One Response

  1. Heather says:

    Is there a good source for guidelines on how long foods are good after the use by or expiration dates?

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