Do You Know All About Expiry Dates?
When you go to a supermarket to purchase your groceries, be it milk, cheese, bread or meats, what is the first thing you look for? The expiry date, right? But do you know everything about the expiry dates or are you left looking up tips to identify rotten bacon and poultry because you do not know how to ascertain it? In case you are at a loss, then here is what you should know before you check the labels of the products that you are going to buy. The information is courtesy a Health Canada advisory issued recently which seeks to make people aware of the information that appears on pre-packaged foods. Here are the steps you need to keep in mind.
1) Best-Before Date
The best-before date in case of some products tell you about the shelf life of the product only in case the package is unopened. However, once the package is opened, the best-before date does not hold any value. In this case, the advisory says, “Consumers need to know once they’ve opened a carton of yogurt, and taken that seal off, that best-before or expiry date is no longer in effect.” So, make sure that you know whether the best-before date is valid for your product in the opened or unopened state.
2) The Expiration Date
In order to get the most nutritional value out of your food, you need to consume it before the expiration date. This is important because the food is unable to maintain its microbiological and physical stability after the expiration date is over.
3) What if the Food Smells Fine
It is a fact that the food can still be dangerous even if it is smelling or tasting fine even after the expiry or best-before date. In case your food smells fine after the due date, the Health Canada says, “use your judgment. When in doubt, throw it out.” If the expiration date is over, there is no doubt that you should not use that food item.
When you purchase food from the supermarket, you need to refrigerate it within two hours of purchase. You may refrigerate or freeze the food depending upon the time by which you are going to use it. In this regard, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety says that despite refrigeration, the food can still go bad but the refrigeration process slows down bacterial growth keeping the food safe till the best-before date.
5) Different Standards
Different countries have different standards of food expiry, which are expressed in different language. In case of the US, the companies are not required to print dates such as “expired by, use by, or best before” on their products. However, what the US Food and Drug Administration specifies is that the products sold in the country “must be wholesome and fit for consumption.”
6) Expert Opinion
The expiry date or whatever it is called in different countries, is of significant importance as Brenda Watson, executive director of the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, says, “Those best-before dates are the manufacturer's promise to the consumer that the packaging and the food within them will be of the highest quality standard and will contain the nutrients as outlined on the label. After that date, the promise no longer stands.…Definitely when a consumer purchases their food, they should be aware of the best-before date and if it has already passed, they should leave it on the shelf and look for something fresher.”
In effect, foods, especially the pre-packaged ones, have a short shelf life, which is subject to their expiry date. Since our modern lifestyle has made us dependent on this packaged sustenance, it is all the more important that you keep this information in mind while visiting the supermarket next time.