Medical Mythbuster: Expiration Dates... Trash It or Eat It? I’m Confused!

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Medical Mythbuster: Expiration Dates… Trash It or Eat It? I’m Confused!

Many people get confused regarding the expiration dates on their food packages. For instance, if your yogurt says “Best if used by 3/1/17,” should you throw it out if it’s March 3rd? Not necessarily. Experts say the current labels are really about protecting the taste and reputation of the food, and not so much about food safety. So if the yogurt looks and smells fine, it’s probably safe to eat it. Fortunately, new simplified guidelines* approved by major food industry groups will be in place by the summer of 2018. The new labels will have a “Best if used by (date)” for peak quality. If there is a true safety concern and the food should be thrown out, the label will state “Use by (date).” This should make things a little less confusing.

*Developed by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

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