Food Waste and Food Contamination

Food contamination is a big topic these days–and for good reason, with plenty of food recalls making the news.  While certainly concerning, the previous post pointed out that the food scares most often created by Big Food are then used by Big Food as a marketing gimmick.  Potential food safety threats are used to scare us into tossing perfectly fine food, so we must then spend extra dollars to replace it.

As always, balance is necessary here, which is why I was glad to see this post pop up in my email today:

Food Safety: What do Expiration Dates Really Mean?

This post, from Nutrition Action provides a sensible overview of food safety, starting with a quick explanation of all the dates you might find on a package.  In summary, “the vast majority of these dates are related to food quality, not food safety. For example, a product may taste, smell, or feel fresher if it’s eaten by the date on the package—but the date won’t reflect whether the food might be contaminated with bacteria.”

Read more about:

  1. What do all the different dates on a package mean, e.g., “sell by,” “use by,” and “best used by”
  2. What’s the most important factor affecting food safety (hint: the way the product has been handled, especially around refrigeration)
  3. How can you tell if a food has gone bad

Hope this helps you find the right balance between being safe but not getting needlessly sucked into wasting perfectly good food.

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