When you go to the grocery store, you’ll see that almost everything sold on the shelf is marked with a “best before” or “expiration” date. But how accurate are these printed labels? In my personal experience, I’ve had food that lasts much longer than the date on the package and is still perfectly good to eat. And I’ve also had food that expired well before the best by date.
So which is it? Are expiration dates listed on food packaging accurate or are they a load of baloney? One man who wrote a report for Vice decided to test out. The man not only ate food that was way past its expiration date – especially yogurts – he also ate recalled romaine lettuce as a way to prove his point about how much Americans waste food when they don’t really have to.
Scott Nash, a concerned dad from Maryland, wants to teach his family about how to conserve and appreciate what they have. As a way of doing that, he vowed to eat expired meats and dairy products for an entire year. He also ate tortillas that were more than a year old. He is doing this because he wants to show the country that just because something has a date printed on it – and that date has passed – does not mean the food is no longer good.
Nash founded the MOM’s Organic Market and has decided to make a statement about food waste. He hates the “sell by” or “best by” dates on food packaging because they’re often entirely inaccurate and just plain wrong.
“Some stuff is damaged, and that’s legitimate, and some stuff really does go bad,” Nash told WTOP. “But a lot, most of the food that gets discarded is due to these arbitrary and confusing dates. They are very vague. What does ‘expire’ mean? There is ‘best by,’ there is ‘sell by,’ ‘best if used by.’ I just think that there is no consistency and that is creating confusion.”
Because Nash had a point to prove, he spent an entire year eating “outdated” and “expired” food, which had not really gone bad.
Even though he “Broke the rules” and ate this bad food, he did not die nor get sick.
“I ate some tortillas that were a year past date. Some of the meats I ate were quite a few weeks past date. I ate heavy cream that was a few months past date. I ate yogurt that was seven, eight, or nine months past date.”
In a blog post written on Scott’s Compost Heap, Nash tries to describe how he conducted this yearlong experiment and why he decided to eat these expired foods.
Experts agree with Nash. Many of the sell by and best by dates are really not accurate. They’re often arbitrary and contribute to unnecessary food waste both at grocery stores and at home. It was found that these dates are strongly associated with food waste because often when the item is passed that date, it gets tossed in the trash whether or not it is spoiled.
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