How to Tell Whether Expired Food Is Safe to Eat

Every day the average American throws out nearly a pound of food, according to a recent study from the Department of Agriculture. There are plenty of reasons why good, usable food gets tossed—picky kids, overstocked pantries, or even leftovers that sit in refrigerators too long.

But another major factor is the misconception about what all of those dates on food package labels—“sell by,” “use by,” and “best if used by”—really mean. Ninety percent of Americans misinterpret the dates on labels, according to a recent study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and throw out food that could still be consumed or frozen for later use.

That raises the question: If expiration dates aren’t a reliable gauge of food spoilage, how does a consumer know what to keep and what to toss?

 

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