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(The Consumerist)   The average consumer doesn't understand the difference between "sell by," "use by" and "best before," and that's causing tons of food waste   ( consumerist.com) divider line
    More: Obvious, Food Marketing Institute, perfectly good food, Grocery Manufacturers Association, product date wording, Food, new voluntary standards, Natural Resources Defense, dairy producer Dean  
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7863 clicks; posted to Main » on 17 Feb 2017 at 4:15 AM (22 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2017-02-17 12:39:25 AM  
If you're a food supplier, that's a feature, not a bug.
 
2017-02-17 01:18:46 AM  
Actually the fact we have competing mega-grocery stores across the street from each other is a bigger factor, subs.
 
2017-02-17 01:41:21 AM  
 
2017-02-17 01:55:55 AM  
So, Trump voters.
 
2017-02-17 02:20:46 AM  
My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.
 
2017-02-17 03:31:04 AM  
Where I come from we've got a little rule: if it's brown, drink it down. If it's black, send it back.
 
2017-02-17 03:56:56 AM  
Maybe we can just change to an "Eat this shiat by" date?
 
2017-02-17 04:26:58 AM  
I've eaten stuff that was 10+ years past the expiration date. As long as it's non meat or dairy, and doesn't require refrigeration, it's no big deal as long as the original seal is still intact. Canned soup, vegetables, peanut butter, pickles, dry pancake mix etc. It's all good.
 
2017-02-17 04:28:19 AM  
All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.

Maybe the food safety standards here are better, maybe I have an iron stomach.
 
2017-02-17 04:30:24 AM  
The last time I read Consumerist, that website appeared to have been long pass it's "use by" date,
 
2017-02-17 04:31:47 AM  
CSB:
There are various charities and causes that like the hang out in front of the nearby small grocery store, which happens to be near an Albertson's. One night as I head in and out of the grocery, there's a small team of high schoolers collecting canned food for some cause. As I pulled away and drove behind the Albertson's, I see a semi from a local food bank loading up with crates and crates of fruit (I could tell because of the bannana boxes.) Good on Albertson's (at least at the local level) for selling or donating produce, it's worth several times what typically comes in a can or box.
 
2017-02-17 04:33:26 AM  

aagrajag: All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.

Maybe the food safety standards here are better, maybe I have an iron stomach.


Sounds like you are one of those who don't understand what a best before date means.
 
2017-02-17 04:33:53 AM  
Who even reads that sheet?
 
2017-02-17 04:36:09 AM  
Sounds more like an "understanding English" problem.  Why would the words "sell-by" mean that it expires on that date?  It would mean that you could risk buying just-turned food.  Even "use by" is more of a guess or average than an actual date of spoiling; one would assume that "sell-by" has some extra time factored into it to account for actually using the product.

"Best if used by" seems pretty obvious too:  it won't be at its best if you eat it after the specified date.  Not the same thing as spoiled.

I suspect it has something to do with people being a little overzealous about taking the better-safe-than-sorry approach.
 
2017-02-17 04:40:10 AM  

LiberalConservative: aagrajag: All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.

Maybe the food safety standards here are better, maybe I have an iron stomach.

Sounds like you are one of those who don't understand what a best before date means.


No need to be snippy, I know perfectly what it means.

I was also unable to detect any change in flavour or texture. I could have purchased them the previous day.
 
2017-02-17 04:42:28 AM  

Jirafa: Sounds more like an "understanding English" problem.  Why would the words "sell-by" mean that it expires on that date?  It would mean that you could risk buying just-turned food.  Even "use by" is more of a guess or average than an actual date of spoiling; one would assume that "sell-by" has some extra time factored into it to account for actually using the product.

"Best if used by" seems pretty obvious too:  it won't be at its best if you eat it after the specified date.  Not the same thing as spoiled.

I suspect it has something to do with people being a little overzealous about taking the better-safe-than-sorry approach.


I think that part of the problem is that many people cynically assume -- not without reason -- that "Best before" is corporate-speak for "eat before this date or suffer rectal-prolapse-inducing projectile diarhhea."
 
2017-02-17 04:45:38 AM  
I eat plenty of stuff past its best before date. Usually it makes little to no noticeable difference to the taste providing we're talking months not years. The clearance shelf in places like Tesco often slashes the prices on items close to the best before date which is great.
<p>
Use by means use by. Food poisoning sucks.
 
2017-02-17 04:48:20 AM  

Jirafa: Sounds more like an "understanding English" problem.  Why would the words "sell-by" mean that it expires on that date?  It would mean that you could risk buying just-turned food.  Even "use by" is more of a guess or average than an actual date of spoiling; one would assume that "sell-by" has some extra time factored into it to account for actually using the product.

"Best if used by" seems pretty obvious too:  it won't be at its best if you eat it after the specified date.  Not the same thing as spoiled.

I suspect it has something to do with people being a little overzealous about taking the better-safe-than-sorry approach.


I guess you've never had a parent or SO say "does anyone want this (whatever), because if not I'm going to throw it away."
 
2017-02-17 05:02:27 AM  
This discussion takes place in my house once a week. My wife is susepible to authoritIan claims.
 
2017-02-17 05:04:06 AM  

fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.


And some cheese you don't even need to cut the mould off.
www.countrybrewer.com.au
 
2017-02-17 05:04:37 AM  

aagrajag: LiberalConservative: aagrajag: All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.

Maybe the food safety standards here are better, maybe I have an iron stomach.

Sounds like you are one of those who don't understand what a best before date means.

No need to be snippy, I know perfectly what it means.

I was also unable to detect any change in flavour or texture. I could have purchased them the previous day.


No snippy intended. See your bolded text above. Exceeding best before is not a health risk (within reason). If you understood that you wouldn't be questioning safety standards or your iron stomach ability.
 
2017-02-17 05:05:38 AM  

fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.


I used to do that. Just last month, I made some pasta with some milk that was three days old. It smelled okay, hell, even tasted okay. I eat vegetarian, so the dish was the pasta, some (frozen) veggies, cheese (fresh), and just a bit of 'old' milk.

Spent the rest of the night vomiting everything I'd ever eaten that was still in my system, cleaned my guts of bile and bacteria, and then dry-retched until I was ready to come to Jesus.

My cat was so inspired, she even came in to sympathy puke next to me, just to show her enthusiastic support. It was a night I won't forget.

I follow 'best by' dates now. Religiously.
 
2017-02-17 05:08:44 AM  
Can we just take a step back and ask what, if anything, does the average consumer understand?
 
2017-02-17 05:20:06 AM  
If you open it you have to chug it.

Rules.
 
2017-02-17 05:20:14 AM  

aagrajag: All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.


The secret is to put your dairy in the very back of the fridge. It's coldest back there and milk and eggs can last weeks beyond their expiry dates. Sometimes they'll even get some light frost.
 
2017-02-17 05:20:58 AM  

Dave2042: Can we just take a step back and ask what, if anything, does the average consumer understand?


No. That's not what we want to do.
 
2017-02-17 05:22:28 AM  

Ishkur: aagrajag: All I know is that I've used eggs two months after their BB date, and tofu three months after, safely.

The secret is to put your dairy in the very back of the fridge. It's coldest back there and milk and eggs can last weeks beyond their expiry dates. Sometimes they'll even get some light frost.


So, finally, I've met sir Leawood of the bueshersters
 
2017-02-17 05:23:58 AM  

starsrift: fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.

I used to do that. Just last month, I made some pasta with some milk that was three days old. It smelled okay, hell, even tasted okay. I eat vegetarian, so the dish was the pasta, some (frozen) veggies, cheese (fresh), and just a bit of 'old' milk.

Spent the rest of the night vomiting everything I'd ever eaten that was still in my system, cleaned my guts of bile and bacteria, and then dry-retched until I was ready to come to Jesus.

My cat was so inspired, she even came in to sympathy puke next to me, just to show her enthusiastic support. It was a night I won't forget.

I follow 'best by' dates now. Religiously.


I've been up vomiting out of both ends all night. I think I should have checked the date on the sour cream even though it looked okay.
 
2017-02-17 05:33:00 AM  

starsrift: fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.

I used to do that. Just last month, I made some pasta with some milk that was three days old. It smelled okay, hell, even tasted okay. I eat vegetarian, so the dish was the pasta, some (frozen) veggies, cheese (fresh), and just a bit of 'old' milk.

Spent the rest of the night vomiting everything I'd ever eaten that was still in my system, cleaned my guts of bile and bacteria, and then dry-retched until I was ready to come to Jesus.

My cat was so inspired, she even came in to sympathy puke next to me, just to show her enthusiastic support. It was a night I won't forget.

I follow 'best by' dates now. Religiously.


Sorry, three days out of the cow, or three days past 'best by {date}'?

'cos three days out of the cow, properly refrigerated, is only going to make you sick if the cow was sick in the first place.

Fresh milk out of a healthy cow will be OK if it's put into refrigeration straight away.... spoilers.....EVEN IF IT'S NOT PASTEURISED. The cream will settle to the top, and then it will slowly *sour* and still be edible, but better cooked or processed, e.g. in sourmilk pancakes or yoghurt. Hint - lactobacillus exists in sauerkraut, in the millions.

/ sorry for your loss
// loss of bodily contents, that is
 
2017-02-17 05:33:43 AM  
s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com
 
2017-02-17 05:33:57 AM  

stuartp9: fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.

And some cheese you don't even need to cut the mould off.
[www.countrybrewer.com.au image 640x480]


I personally love cheeses, and it's wonderful the FDA grandfathered domestic bleu cheese. I wish we in the US at least had the option of more ripened cheeses, things like brie are sold really young (it's not supposed to have a snow white rind.)
 
2017-02-17 05:38:59 AM  
www.imagefully.com
 
2017-02-17 05:39:30 AM  
i.imgur.com

It is October 1st, 151441.  Humanity is hanging on to its last thread.  The final bottle of syrup will be opened tomorrow.
 
2017-02-17 05:49:52 AM  

drxym: The clearance shelf in places like Tesco often slashes the prices on items close to the best before date which is great.


My local supermarket has a 50% discount on "use today" articles. Saturday evenings are the most interesting, because they're closed on Sunday so even more products are on the clearance shelf. I can get two or even three full meals at half price that way, and even stock up on some items. Packaged smoked salmon can go in the freezer if it hasn't been frozen before (they have to tell on the label), cheese and yogurt easily last another fortnight in the fridge.
 
2017-02-17 06:01:01 AM  
"Sell by" doesn't tell me anything as a consumer. "Best before" is an arbitrary term. "Use by" is the only one that's relatively useful, and even that doesn't tell me if it means "after this you're in danger" or "after this we're legally off the hook if you get sick". People are relatively risk-averse, and companies especially so.

Consumer - If you throw the food out too early, the cost is the price of the food. If you throw it out too late, the cost is food poisoning. Are you going to toss $0.67 worth of old sour cream or take a chance on getting sick... especially if you've gotten sick before?

Company - If people throw out your food too early, they have to buy more and you actually make a bit of money, but some people might criticize you for that. If you push the date back and someone gets sick, they sue you for $3 million. Do you print "use by" dates erring on the early or late side?

I'd say bulk purchasing is more responsible for food waste, especially since it exacerbates the above issues.
 
2017-02-17 06:05:05 AM  
if they are not dented, canned goods can last a very long time.

I worked at a Salvation Army and stores would donate items that were past the dates on the boxes. We would have twenty shopping carts full of nonperishables in our backroom that we could not sell to the public, so it was free to the employees.  This was a rare moment of generosity by the SA, because if they could have charged us $2 for a box of off brand cereal, they would have.   Out of 30-40 employees, only two of us took from the huge windfall.   Everyone else, refused to eat it because they knew they would get sick and die a most horrible death.

I had enough free cereal, oatmeal, soup and noodles for 18 months and still have some. I backed my truck up into our bay and just loaded everything I could.  They thought I was nuts.

Sometimes, being raised by The Great Generation pays off.
 
2017-02-17 06:07:27 AM  
So which 2 regulations are we going to axe to add that one in?  Because Trump said we have to get rid of 2 regulations for everyone new one we add.
 
2017-02-17 06:15:27 AM  
All I know is old dairy will make me throw up faster than anything.   I remember buying an expired chocolate milk as a kid, immediately throwing up when it had the consistency of a used motel carpet,  then the cashier said I was at fault for not checking the expiration date.

I argued that they shouldn't be selling expired milk, got my money back,  and free diarrhea for three days.
 
2017-02-17 06:24:28 AM  

fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away.

Wow, no wonder your mom's in such a bad mood.
 
2017-02-17 06:28:27 AM  
The only food I toss out after the "sell by date" is whole milk. I don't know why. I've never had milk go sour.
 
2017-02-17 06:30:35 AM  

Shirley Ujest: if they are not dented, canned goods can last a very long time.

I worked at a Salvation Army and stores would donate items that were past the dates on the boxes. We would have twenty shopping carts full of nonperishables in our backroom that we could not sell to the public, so it was free to the employees.  This was a rare moment of generosity by the SA, because if they could have charged us $2 for a box of off brand cereal, they would have.   Out of 30-40 employees, only two of us took from the huge windfall.   Everyone else, refused to eat it because they knew they would get sick and die a most horrible death.

I had enough free cereal, oatmeal, soup and noodles for 18 months and still have some. I backed my truck up into our bay and just loaded everything I could.  They thought I was nuts.

Sometimes, being raised by The Great Generation pays off.


I mentioned in a thread a long while back  I had eaten some oatmeal that I had in the cupboard which was maybe a couple of years old, if not older. It was an unopened bag that I had simply forgotten. I gave the visual and smell checks and it looked fine. So cooked it, added some sultanas and it was good to go. No problems whatsoever.

All I got on Fark were 'Ewwws' and other disparaging comments. Bless them, the little snowflakes.
 
2017-02-17 06:44:29 AM  

starsrift: Just last month, I made some pasta with some milk that was three days old. It smelled okay, hell, even tasted okay. I eat vegetarian, so the dish was the pasta, some (frozen) veggies, cheese (fresh), and just a bit of 'old' milk.
. . .
I follow 'best by' dates now. Religiously.

"Best by" dates are pretty close to religion, in that they're all faith.

Storing dairy is 99 parts regulating temperature and 1 part that damn date.  That it was 3 days old had nothing to do with why it went bad.  Factors that might've mattered, in no particular order:
1) How long you went shopping, and time of year.  A few hours in a hot car does a lot more to milk than 3 days in the fridge.
2) Fridge organization.  If your fridge is packed, the cold air isn't going to circulate.
3) Fridge setting.  It should be just above freezing in the coldest parts, because the warmest parts aren't going to be even close to that cold.  Fridge design is rather arbitrary these days.
4) Fridge condition.  Leaky seal, failing pump, it just might not be that cold in there.
5) Fridge location.  Is there any space behind the fridge for air movement?  A lot of houses have a stupidly cramped alcove the homeowner's expected to shove the fridge into and forget.  But fridges are heat pumps; it needs somewhere to pump the heat to or it'll lose efficiency and fail faster.
6) Fridge-surfing habits.  If you're peckish, don't just hold the door open and gawk at what's in there.  Open it, take a mental snapshot, close it and then decide if you saw anything you want.
7) Unfortunately out of anyone's control, but shipping & handling.  Some grocers have crappy distributors that don't bother trying to keep stuff cold.  I've had milk go bad a week before the "sell by" date; we shop at a different store now.

If you combine grocery shopping with other errands, bag your own groceries and put everything cold in the same bag, a cloth bag.  Unless it's winter in the Midwest or New England, in which case whatever.
 
2017-02-17 06:44:37 AM  

Ed Grubermann: The only food I toss out after the "sell by date" is whole milk. I don't know why. I've never had milk go sour.


You lucky son of a biatch. Nothing like waking up, draggin' your ass to the fridge, downing a couple chugs of of soured milk and puking into the sink.

I rarely buy milk but when I do I toss it within a few days opening. I may be out a couple bucks. Worth it.
 
2017-02-17 06:45:21 AM  

puffy999: Where I come from we've got a little rule: if it's brown, drink it down. If it's black, send it back.


Hopefully you're not applying that to milk?
 
2017-02-17 06:51:01 AM  
img.fark.net
 
2017-02-17 07:04:26 AM  
1981.  Working my way through college at the local mega grocery store and the manager had me clean off the top of the dairy cooler.  I found a Twinkie that was 7-10 years past the Sell By date.

It was still soft, moist sponge cake, no visible mold or deterioration.  Thought 'What the Fark'?

/never had a Twinkie, never will
 
2017-02-17 07:05:02 AM  

starsrift: fusillade762: My rule is if it smells bad or has visible mold growing on it I throw it away. Except for cheese, that is. Cheese just gets the mold cut off unless it's penetrated too deep.

I used to do that. Just last month, I made some pasta with some milk that was three days old. It smelled okay, hell, even tasted okay. I eat vegetarian, so the dish was the pasta, some (frozen) veggies, cheese (fresh), and just a bit of 'old' milk.

Spent the rest of the night vomiting everything I'd ever eaten that was still in my system, cleaned my guts of bile and bacteria, and then dry-retched until I was ready to come to Jesus.

My cat was so inspired, she even came in to sympathy puke next to me, just to show her enthusiastic support. It was a night I won't forget.

I follow 'best by' dates now. Religiously.


You are one of those who do not understand. Milk doesn't have 'best before' it has 'use by' as you have to use it by that date or it may have spoiled.
 
2017-02-17 07:09:21 AM  

aagrajag: No need to be snippy


wait, isn't this fark?

/doesn't believe all things rot at the same rate
//has caused myself gastrointestinal distress
 
2017-02-17 07:17:56 AM  
Dating sites should have a BB date. Just want to be sure that your date is "fresh" and hasn't "expired".
 
2017-02-17 07:20:29 AM  
The terms are made up, not required by the FDA.  This is why they don't mean much and aren't standardized.  When food preservatives were first introduced, some food sat on shelves for years with no dates.  When people ate it, it tasted like crap.  This reflected badly on the company making the food so they added dates.  Getting you to throw away good food and buy more is a side benefit.

Look at it, sniff it, eat it.
 
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