How Accurate are Expiration Dates?: April 13, 2017
Sell by, use by, or best by, depending on the product these dates may be overlooked, but health experts say that date reveals a lot to the consumer.
Julie Cole, a dietitian with Lee Health, says the government requires some type of expiration date on all products, but when it comes to foods like meat or dairy consumers should follow the recommended date to prevent bacteria. “Everything has a use by, sell by, or best by date, and those are really referring to the quality of the product not food safety. They’re really giving you the date based on the quality. So they’ve gone through and tested their products and found at this specific time frame that is giving you the best quality of the product.”
Eating certain foods after the expiration date could put you at risk for food borne illness. “What’s going to happen is your stomach is going to get upset if anything if any of the bacteria has started to grow. But some of them can be very high risk. If you’re a child, elderly, immune compromised, you can be sicker longer and it can result in death,” said Cole.
Foods like cereal, grains, or canned foods, have a little more leniency when it comes to the expiration date. “Those dates are really about quality, so if you’re tasting it and it tastes fine, you’re going to be fine,” said Cole.
If you’re unsure, experts say it’s better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt throw it out.