Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Truth About Expiration Dates.

So while visiting my southern IL family for my friend's baby shower, I decided to make "mom" some breakfast, thinking I was going to make some eggs and pancakes for her since she has housed me during my visit. While I was prepping the pancake batter, I asked her one simple question: "Mom, are the eggs in the fridge still good?" to which she responded "I think so? Oh you girls and your expiration dates!"

Whaaaaaaaaaaa? That statement led me to check every item that I had eaten already and whatever I had started to use to prep the breakfast. Turns out the eggs expired in July, the butter was good for the rest of this month and the oil that she put in my pan expired March 16....of 2007.

Now I can understand how food can sit in a cabinet for awhile and while you don't have a reason to use it you don't want to waste it so it just becomes a feature in your fridge or cabinet but whoa! What's even crazier is after I tell my friend what Mom said she goes on to tell that her father-in-law cleaned out his pantry and brought over food for her and the family- one of the items being a jar of cherries....that expired in 1988. Apparently he thought they were still good because they were not opened. (For all those wandering, she threw them away.)

All of this got me a-thinkin: when does food really expire? Of course there are "expires by"  and "sell by" dates but when is the real "throw-this-in-the-garbage-immediately!" date?

Here is what I found as per
  • Milk. Usually fine until a week after the "Sell By" date.
  • Eggs. OK for 3-5 weeks after you bring them home (assuming you bought them before the "sell by" date). VanLandingham says double-grade As will go down a grade in a week but still be perfectly edible.
  • Poultry and seafood. Cook or freeze this within a day or two.
  • Beef and pork. Cook or freeze within three to five days.
  • Canned goods. Highly acidic foods like tomato sauce can keep 18 months or more. Low-acid foods like canned green beans are probably risk-free for up to five years. "You do not want to put cans in a hot place like a crawl space or garage," Peggy VanLaanen, EdD, RD, a professor of food and nutrition at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, tells WebMD. She suggests keeping canned and dry food at 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in a dry, dark place. Humidity can be a factor in speeded-up deterioration. The FDA notes that taste, aroma, and appearance of food can change rapidly if the air conditioning fails in a home or warehouse. Obviously, cans bulging with bacteria growth should be discarded, no matter what the expiration date!
One great source to answer questions about expiration dates and shelf life is the website If you are curious how long food really last after the expiration date you can just visit the home page, type in the food that you are pondering about and not only will they cover any food that is relative to what you are asking but then you get a breakdown of how long the food will last in the fridge or in the freezer and tips how to make it last longer. Pretty cool huh?
StillTasty also helps to answer questions such as these:
All really good questions, especially for us moms who want to make sure that we don't make our children sick. I must say that after finding these sites I do feel a lot better about being so particular and picky!
*See mom, even though eggs might last for about a month you still gotta check the dates!*


  1. Great post, my husband and I argue about this all the time. He will eat stuff that is soo old!

    I just discovered your blog, it's great! I gave you an award over at my blog, I hope you'll come check it out!


  2. I have to tell my husband all the time, to don't waste money and through the milk away just because its the date that on the milk! Stop by The Isis Collections for your blogger award!

  3. Very informative post. Thank you. Following you from MBC.


  4. Great post... these facts are always argued over! Your newest follower from MBC!

  5. Hey I saw you over at Mom Bloggers and stopped on by.
    Most expiration dates I don't much pay attention to. Milk in my opinion can begin to turn anytime before or after an expiration date, I can smell it going long before anyone else I know. I think it depends on how it was handled during delivery to the store.
    Eggs, I always do the water test. You take an egg and place it in a cup of cold water. If it sinks all the way its good to go, if it stands up on one end at the bottom it's getting older. Any off the bottom floatage - throw it out.
    My mom always taught me to never purchase dented cans, it makes it harder for the cans to buldge in the presence of potentially lethal bacteria blooms.


  6. Ha! I hate to think of how much food I toss because I'm paranoid about expiration dates! Great post- helpful! I'm a new follower from MBC!
    ~Jules @

  7. I like this blog so much that I have given you an award!!!!

    Come get it!

  8. Hello! I just wanted to pop by & check out your page, Thank-you so much for following me, cheers & Godbless! <3

  9. Great info! Stopping by from MBC. Following you now.


  10. I hate wasting food too but I also get sick to my stomach thinking of eating something that could potentially be spoiled.

    I have sent the link to StillTasty to a few people who like to "wing it" when it comes to food and expirations. hahaha