Toss or Not: What To Do With Expired Foods

Toss or Not: What To Do With Expired Foods

We're all guilty of searching the refrigerator for that one item. Once you find it, you notice it's past the expiration date. What do you do now?

"I do the sniff test on it. I had some milk that's been in the refrigerator for ten days. I just emptied it out yesterday. And yeah, it had to go," said Rochester resident Kim Minder.

Some rely on the food label.

"I trust what the food companies are putting on the labels as the best date to eat it by," said Springfield resident Nathan Hoffman.

But experts say the printed date isn't for consumers.

"It's for manufacturers and store owners/managers to know when they should put the product on the shelf or when they should take it off," said Whitney Ajie with the U of I extension.

Ajie says often times consumers prematurely throw food out due to the fear of getting sick. She says depending on what the food is, it can last days, weeks, and even months after the printed date.

"If we're talking about eggs, it's about three to five weeks," said Ajie. "If it's meat, you should use the 'use by' date if it has one. You can still keep it three days past date. Then you need to cook or freeze it."

A report released by the Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic says more than 90 percent of Americans toss food out because they misinterpret food labels as indicators of food safety.

"That's what we do. Waste. I think it's true. We do waste. I waste myself sometimes," said Springfield resident Robert Hiles.

Experts say that waste contributes to the billions of pounds of food filling our landfills and polluting the air. So the next time you consider tossing food out that isn't quite expired, maybe you should think twice.

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