It’s Saturday morning, you’re locked in after a blizzard dumped 16 inches of snow at your doorsteps. Your three little ones are demanding their morning cup of hot milk / cocoa. Groggy eyed and still half asleep, you open the fridge and pull out the last carton of milk. As you’re about to open it, you discover that its “use by” date expired 2 days ago.
What do you do?
A. Take a sniff of the milk, if it smells OK, no problem.
B. The kids will drink tea this morning.
C. Get the snow shovel and ice scraper and drive to the nearest convenience store.
D. Go back to bed and let your spouse deal with the situation.
Here’s some good news.
What you need to know:
The expiration date on perishable products is an indicator of QUALITY, not safety. This means that you can still drink the milk, eat the cheese, and prepare the steak a few days after the expiration date. Products may not be at their prime, but they should pose no safety issue. Hooray, your kids will get their milk right away.
That said, it’s always a good idea to carefully sniff and, if possible, taste just a small amount just to make sure that you won’t gag on a flavor that seems to be too “off” to be safe.
Read more on Slate Magazine.
What to do at the supermarket:
Of course, the smarter move is to avoid the expiration issue altogether by choosing the product with the farthest date into the future. In some cases you’ll need to reach in to the farther reaches of the refrigerated shelf. Grocers order the milk on the shelves with the older products in the front and the newer in the back. Some clerks put cartons so the expiration date is facing backward; the grab-and-run shoppers don’t notice.
Until the said Saturday morning scenario. True story…
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