Food Safety: the Good, the Bad, and the Questionable

To keep or not to keep? That is the question many people ask themselves as they try to determine whether food has overstayed its welcome. In addition to examining the product visually, such as by doing a fruit quality inspection Medley FL, people often base their decision on the date shown on the food’s label.

Unfortunately, this label is often a source of confusion that can lead to wasted food. The USDA estimates that consumers and retailers waste about 30% of the food supply, and the date displayed on a food product’s label contributes to this waste.

What Phrases Are Often Shown on Labels?

Some common phrases include the following; none of them are meant to indicate whether the product is safe to consume. A freeze-by date tells the user when, in order to maintain its peak quality, the food should be frozen. A sell-by date tells the store, for the purposes of industry management, how long the product should be displayed for sale. A use-by date indicates the last date on which a product can be used at its peak quality. A best if used by/before date conveys when the food’s flavor or quality will be at its best.

Can Expired Food Be Donated?

Yes, it can. As long as the food is not displaying any signs of spoilage, it should still be wholesome enough for someone else to use. It is possible, though, that a perishable product will have experienced some deterioration in terms of quality. Anyone planning to purchase and consume food from a surplus grocery, bargain outlet, or food-salvage store should first carefully evaluate the product.

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What Are Some Safety Tips?

Avoid buying frozen food that appears to have thawed and been refrozen, as indicated by the appearance of food-stained packaging; this process may have allowed bacteria to grow. If canned food shows a bulge or looks swollen, don’t buy it; its appearance indicates the possibility of bacteria growing inside. Refrigerated food with an expired use-by or sell-by date should not be purchased; it could be perishable and might have started to spoil.