Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sell by, Best by, Can I eat this or not?

            While pondering about what to write, I decided I wanted something to drink. I went downstairs and grabbed a glass and poured some milk in it. As I looked at the milk, I checked the date to make sure it was “healthy” enough to drink. The carton said “Sell by 1/27”. As I looked at it, I thought, well doesn’t help a lot, where is the best by date? That got me to thinking, how long does something last past its “sell by” date.
The picture is part of the WONKBLOG found here

            So I started researching, and I confirmed a few things and learned a few new things. According to the WONKBLOG, that I found on the Washington Post’s website, back in the 1970’s shoppers wanted to know if their food was fresh. In response, state government’s started passing a “patchwork” of labeling laws. Congress could have stepped in, but as the author points out, they never did and never have even today. As I thought, the “sell by” date is for retailers and the “best by” date is directed at consumers. However, some states only put the sell by date, like my milk carton.
            Another thing the author mentions is that some foods are actually still okay to eat beyond the “best by” label. However, the author makes quick to note that just because it is possible that some foods last longer than their dates, it isn’t safe to guess what foods will be okay and what foods won’t be.  One of the keys to keeping the food(s) to last is how the food is stored and refrigeration versus freezing.
            The author references a report from a researcher and says that it would probably be better to have a “freeze by” or “preserve by “date. The researcher also suggests that the “sell by” date should be invisible to consumers.
            Thank you to Brad Plumer's article for giving the information.

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