What kind of food is it?
We touched on this slightly above, but what type of food we’re talking about here can make a big difference. A box of crackers that is a bit past its sell-by date is generally safer to eat than raw meat that might be past its date. Whether it’s in the freezer, fridge, or on the shelf can matter too, as can if you’ve opened it or not. Again, online resources can help, as can food safety knowledge about how long these things can generally be stored.
Give it a look.
While in some cases food can be spoiled without any visible signs, most will let you know loud and clear when they’ve gone bad. The USDA recommends looking for signs of spoilage to see if a food is truly no longer safe to eat past its expiration date. If your milk is curdling or your meat looks slimy, that’s a pretty good indication that you should toss it. If it still looks and smells good to you, you’re probably safe, especially within a few days of its marked date.
Food waste is an issue, but don’t do anything that might make you sick.
Generally speaking, expiration dates seem to freak people out more than they need to. It’s not always a magical time when the clock strikes midnight and food becomes poisonous. Food waste is a huge problem in the U.S. and every day people throw out food that is perfectly safe to consume.
That being said, food safety is also hugely important and you shouldn’t risk getting sick from rancid greens because you’re worried about being wasteful. Make your best judgment call with the provided resources, and in the future, try your best to plan out your groceries according to what you’ll actually be able to use on time.
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