Preparedness Tip Wednesday: What Food is Safe to Eat after it expires


Expiration_Tag

None of us wants to get sick from our food, and we don’t want to throw out food that’s perfectly good, either. So what is safe to eat? What can you eat past the “pull date?”


As a general rule, things that are very salty (pickles for example), sugary (honey or jam), fermented (sauerkraut) or dried (biscuits) are very low-risk. 
Why? Well, essentially, there are five ways of killing bacteria to ensure the safety of food.
First, food can be preserved in acidic liquids like vinegar, the process that gives us pickles. You can eat pickles long after the date on the jar.
Second, using large amounts of sugar can be a very effective method of preservation, which is the reason that very sweet products like fruitcake and fudge can be eaten well past their best-before date. Indeed, some 5,000-year-old honey recently found in Egypt has proved to be both edible and perfectly harmless.
Third, the process of fermentation, used in dishes like the German favourite sauerkraut, also preserves food effectively, as do the traditional methods of salting, curing and drying meat and fish.
Properly made Italian salami – not the water-filled, modern commercial type – can last a whole year, just becoming progressively more dry as the months pass, but still remaining good to eat.   
Lastly, and most simply, thoroughly cooking any product will destroy most bacteria, as they cannot survive extreme heat.
For example, where meat has darkened because of exposure to air, it needn’t be binned. Just cook it at a high heat and it should be absolutely fine.
You can read more here.
Gotta love British English; “binned” means “thrown into the bin” or as we call it “garbage can.”
Also, note the difference between a “best by _______” date and a “use by _______” date. When a product is “best by” a certain date, it means that the product will be in its best condition if eaten before that date, but won’t make you ill if you eat it afterward. The “use by” date is a little more cautionary; it means that using the food after this date might be unsafe to eat after the printed date. This would be especially true for things like fresh meats.
The article points out that supermarkets and food producers like expiration dates because they are trying to promote the idea of the “weekly shop” or buying more frequently.
So what to do? Use your head, and your nose and your eyes. Does the product smell funny? Does it have stuff growing on it? Then don’t eat it. Is the can (or “tin” if you’re British) bulging or rusty? Then toss it out. Don’t take a risk.
So, have you ever gotten sick from eating something past the pull date? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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