Dr Oz: Eating Food Past Expiration Date
Dr. Oz wanted to tackle a very common question: is it safe to eat food after its expiration date? Most people may follow the “better safe than sorry” rule and throw out the expired food, while others may question if they can still dig in. NBC News reporter Jeff Rossen took a closer look at the issue.
Whether the label says “sell by,” “use by,” “better if used by,” or “best if used by,” the labels are on all kinds of food products. Americans throw away 160 billion pounds of food a year on average, which means a family of four throws away, on average, $1,560 worth of food. But what many people may now know is that a lot of that out-of-date food is perfectly good.
A new study from Harvard and the NRDC found that the sell and use by dates were confusing and misleading. Emily Broad Leib, from the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, shared that people think if they eat food past those dates, they’re going to get sick, but that’s not true. Emily explained that everything from cereal, to salad dressings, and even eggs are safe to eat past the expiration date. She explained that there hasn’t been a single instance of someone getting food poisoning or food borne illnesses from eating food after the date on the label.
Dr Oz: What Do Expiration Dates Mean
Dr. Oz sat down with Jeff Rossen who said he was actually one of those people who threw out a lot of food, but what surprised him the most is that the dates have nothing to do with food safety, but instead how the food tastes. Jeff then wanted to explain what various food statements meant.
He first explained that packed on means the day the product was put into the packaging. The sell by date is a message to the grocery store that they shouldn’t sell the product past that date, but it’s still perfectly safe to consume. When it comes to a label that says “best if used by,” Jeff Rossen said it has nothing to do with illness or safety, but is instead the company saying they think their product tastes best before that date.
Jeff explained that the manufacturers are the ones creating the labels, and they make the labels to make more money. Jeff Rossen said the only dates they really do watch are the dates for infant formula. But again, even that date has nothing to do with food borne illness, but instead it means it’s just less effective.
Dr Oz: How Long Does Food Last Past Expiration Date
Jeff then explained that for things like milk, it’s still good for up to 2-3 days after the expiration date and eggs are good for 3-5 weeks after purchase. Jeff suggested keeping your milk in the back of your fridge where it’s coldest. For poultry, you can keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days after you buy it, and other meat is good for 3-5 days after the date of purchase. After that, you want to freeze them, which will make them last for months.
As for canned goods, an undented can is good for 2-5 years past the date. Pasta is good for 1-2 years after the date if you keep it in your pantry.