According to News Center Maine, I've probably thrown away a LOT of good food over the years! Unlike stop signs, it seems that the "best if used by" date is merely a suggestion.

We just moved, and when we cleaned out the kitchen we tossed everything with an expired "use by" date. Now I'm finding out that that is not an expiration date, just a suggestion. Maybe to create paranoia and cause you to buy another box of pancake mix or jar of pesto? I have three.

The "Best if used by" date doesn't mean that your product will magically spoil, it just means that the quality might be a bit compromised by time. The call on "Time's up!" is ultimately up to you, your senses and your best judgement.

The FDA is making the "Best if used by" label the standardized label for all food products now. The FDA, EPA and Dept of Agriculture are teaming up to reduce food waste. I nearly cried when I found out that Americans throw out about $161 billion dollars worth of food every year. Store your food properly and use common sense when cleaning out your cupboards. Do as I say, not as I do.

Just know this:

  • Bulk purchases can lead to waste. Don't get crazy and buy more than you can use before it goes bad.
  • Use the freezer if you buy a loaf of bread and your SO also buys a loaf of bread.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers from restaurants and home within two hours.
  • Know which fruits and vegetables need to be refrigerated and do that.

Check out any food that might seem sketchy. Does it smell right and look right? Is there any separation, funk or discoloration? Dump food for any of those reasons.

Get more information from the FDA here.