Kane In Your Corner: Food industry to create easier-to-understand expiration labels

The food industry will soon create easier-to-understand expiration labels Caption The food industry will soon create easier-to-understand expiration labels Caption

Kane In Your Corner reported Wednesday on expired food for sale at a New Jersey supermarket.

Outside of baby formula and some dairy products, there's nothing illegal about selling expired food. And experts say most, but not all, expired food can be safely eaten. Over the next 18 months, the food industry will be moving to new, easier-to-understand labels, but until that happens, here's what the experts say you should do when food in your house reaches its expiration date.

Food labeled "use by" or "use/freeze by" is generally the most potentially dangerous. If you have not consumed or frozen the food by the date on the label, experts say discard it.

On the other hand, labels that say things like "best by" or "best if used by" are just suggestions as to when the manufacturer thinks the product will taste best. Dana Gunders, senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Foundation, says it's generally safe to continue consuming products long after those dates.

Around the beginning of next year, assuming the food industry cooperates with the new voluntary labeling, those should be the only labels consumers see, Gunders says, but for now, they'll have to deal with a myriad of others.

"Sell by" dates can be particularly confusing because they are intended for stores, not consumers. 

Gunders says it's generally understood the consumer should be able to continue to store the product at home for a period of time beyond these dates, but how long can vary, depending on the type of product. Gunders says even worse are products that bear expiration dates with no additional explanation.

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