It’s a common misconception that the date printed on packaged food is a firm deadline for when you should toss it. In reality, one of the only items in the US with a federally-regulated expiration date is infant formula ― which is why „sell by“ dates and „best if used by (or before)“ dates are more of a guideline than a rule.
As Paul VanLandingham, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University explained in an interview with WebMD, these numbers refer to food quality rather than food safety. While the former dictates how long a store should display a product to ensure its highest level of quality, the latter refers to long consumers should keep a product before it loses flavor or declines in quality.
When it comes to these 15 food items, you can disregard the date on the package.
You can keep dry, boxed pasta for one to two years past its printed date.
Dry pasta can be kept for one to two years past its printed date, according to Eat By Date. FoodSafety.gov, a food resource from the US Department of Health & Human Services, offers the same estimate.
Fresh (uncooked) pasta ― the kind you’ll find in the refrigerated section of the supermarket next to Italian cheese ― is only good for four to five days beyond the date printed on the packaging. When frozen, it will keep for six to eight months.
Cooked pasta, whether dry or fresh, can be kept for seven days in the fridge. In the freezer, it will stay fresh for six to eight months.
Breakfast cereal lasts six to eight months beyond the date on the box when it’s unopened.
When unopened, breakfast cereal can last for six to eight months past the date on the box. If opened, your favorite cereal will stay fresh for between four and six months. In contrast, cooked cereals such as oatmeal will only keep for four to five days in the fridge once prepared.
„Cereals don’t really go bad. There is not that much of a quality issue. If you leave your cereal box open, it can get stale, but you are still not going to get sick from it,“ Emily Broad Leib, the director of Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, told TIME magazine.
No matter what date is on the carton, you can use eggs within three to five weeks of purchasing them.
You’ve probably heard that an egg is spoiled if it floats when immersed in water. All eggs, however, become more buoyant over time as their air cells increase in size, as the University of Nebraska ― Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources explained in the article Cracking the Date Code on Egg Cartons.
No matter what date is printed on the carton, eggs are safe to use within three to five weeks of when you purchase them. Hard-boiled eggs keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
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Source: Business insider