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Food Expiration dates explained

April 21, 2020

You may be like us. At home and finally going through cabinets and really taking a look at the dates on the food.  Or trying to make a recipe only to realize that the ingredient you knew you had is a lot older than you remembered. How do you know which expiration dates to pay attention to and what is actually safe to eat?

Finally, someone with authority who can make you feel good about the two year old white flour and the spices your mom gave you when you had your first apartment, a long time ago.  There are some helpful tips on how to read the numbers on the egg cartons. The refrigerator and freezer are great for prolonging shelf life.  Items on the pantry shelf won’t last as long. Pay close attention to identifying when a can or a jar is showing signs of spoilage like bulging and rust! We know there are space limitations in the refrigerator and freezer.  So go ahead, read the article by J. Kenji López-Alt from the New York Times and use up those old items with confidence.  For everything else that really is past date, use this information to clear up the clutter on your shelves and in your refrigerator.

We all need some humor these days we and are adding some of our favorite comments to this article from NYT Readers.

  • As I constantly tell my partner and kids, “Best Before” does not mean “Bad After”


  • In 1967, while serving in Vietnam, I ate C-Rations packed in 1952. I’m still here.


  • Wooly Mammoths are found frozen in Siberia, they have been expiration date stamped 10,000 years ago and are still excellent sources of protein, by all accounts.


  • About 10 years ago I was helping someone clear out his mother’s attic after the sale of her house. We found some rations (Don’t remember the Letter, was it C? K?) from 1944. There was a tin of jam and a sealed tin of crackers. More than 60 years old. We opened the tins. The jam looked good, smelled good, and when spread on the crackers, tasted good. No ill effects.

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