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Expiration dates

Poll Results: How do you approach expiration dates?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 27% (14)
    They're sacred. I don't eat anything after it's expired.
  • 35% (18)
    They're a flexible guideline.
  • 0% (0)
    Expiration dates? What are they?
  • 23% (12)
    I have never had food poisoning.
  • 13% (7)
    I have had food poisoning.
51 Total Votes  
post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
How do you approach expiration dates?

My dh pulled a container of marinated tofu out of the fridge, and it expired eight days ago. Would you use it anyway? Milk is more obvious, but what about yogurt? It seems to stay good for long after the expiration date. And what about bottles or jars--I checked some of the salad dressing in our fridge, and one container expired nine months ago! But no one has gotten sick from it so far....

And leftovers? How long after you cook something do you consider it to be viable?

I'd love to hear your perspective!
post #2 of 18
I go by the expiration dates, though some are tricky. Some are not expiration dates, but "sell by" dates.

A rule of thumb for leftovers: if its been in there three days or more, I chuck it. Leftovers are breeding grounds for bacteria if left longer. When reheating, I heat everything very hot.
post #3 of 18
I always respect expiration dates when I notice them. I have allergies which results in a very weak sense of smell, so I figure I should just trust them.

That being said, this morning I wasn't feeling well and had DH bring me breakfast in bed. I asked for an English muffin and cream cheese. Simple enough, or so I thought. He apparently didn't want to use the cream cheese in the front of fridge and dug one out of the back that had expired in August! I found out when I got up and saw the brand new cream cheese was still unopened. If you don't ever see me post again, I guess it was bad.
post #4 of 18
Most foods I will NOT eat after the expiration date. Yogurt I will still eat or cook w/ for about 2-3 days after the date. I also do not eat any left overs after 3 days.
post #5 of 18
*i* would never eat anything that's expired. or give it to my child.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
You guys are making me feel so much better. My dh is of the "there's an expiration date on that?" school of thought, and he thinks leftovers are good for *seven* days. ?!!??! I feel guilty when I insist we not eat something after five. After debating about this for eight years, I'd started feeling like I might be over-protective, I mean, you should see the stuff dh eats and he never gets sick! (I guess he's strengthened his immune response!)

I think three days sounds about right for leftovers, and while I'll go a couple of days past expiration dates if there's no funky smell or discoloration, that's about as much as I feel okay about.

Thanks for your input!

Oh, and Amy, I hope you're feeling OK! Cream cheese that expired in August! Wow.
post #7 of 18
First, it is never too expired for the compost pile, so any guilt I have is slightly decreased with that thought. For me, it depends on what the food is. At the discount grocery, I use, there is a sign under the yogurt saying that according to the department of agriculture, yogurt is good for at least a month after its expiration date. Guess who eats cheap expired yogurt! Meat is a different animal of course. But I am much more flexible with my leftovers than moat of you. No problems here so far.
post #8 of 18
Most stuff I see has a "sell by" date, rather than an expiration date. I view things with suspicion if they're more than about 2 days past their sell by date, but will use them if they pass the smell&view test. Leftovers vary by what they are. I don't save leftover takeout food, period (the whole 2 times per year that we have it). On the other hand, there's leftover homemade vegetarian bean soup in the fridge that's about 8 days old. I had a bowl today, and will probably have a bowl tomorrow, too.
post #9 of 18
When I first met my husband, he had food in his fridge that was two years past the expiration date. I think the mayo fell into this category, and it had been opened for awhile. He had another jar that was only a year past, so I used that for awhile until I got some new stuff. I didn't notice at first, otherwise I wouldn't have used it, but his attitude was if it still tasted good it was still fine. I just asked him what he thought, and he said that he takes them pretty seriously. I guess he's changed some. :LOL My big thing is getting rid of medicines, vitamins or ointments that are well past the expiration date, but he doesn't think it's much of a concern. I think the problem is that they start to lose their potency.

Some tofu has a long shelf life, but the kind I've been buying lately hasn't. I've thrown some away just because it definitely gets a sour taste and smell that I find unpleasant.
post #10 of 18
I answered that I have had food poisoning, although I am not aware of any specific instance. It's just that I've heard that most cases of severe diarrhea or vomiting that are usually attributed to a virus are usually caused by foodborne pathogens. A friend of ours got really sick after eating at Applebee's, and he is pretty sure that he had food poisoning. Some food poisoning just causes intestinal upset without necessarily causing vomiting, and I'm pretty sure I've had that.

The one time I had swordfish, I got sick right in the middle of eating it. I don't know that the swordfish caused it, especially since I got sick (stomach pains and diarrhea) at the restaurant right after eating it, and was better afterwards, but I figured it must have been something I ate somewhere. I have noticed that I've had problems after eating salmon in restaurants, and sometimes even at home, so I tend to avoid salmon now. I guess that is more of a sensitivity though, rather than food poisoning.
post #11 of 18
I voted that I don't use food past expiration dates, and I have gotten food poisoning.

We especially throw out milk products past their dates, and if its a sell by date, occasionally we ignore it (but not frequently) and only after it passes the smell/look/small taste test.

When I got food poisoning it was never from food at home. It was chicken chimichangas from my all time favorite mexican resturant. The food there was soooo good too! Used to eat there ALL the time. Got horrible food poisoning once, and learned from many people that this place is notorious for having food poisoning issues. Geez, wish they had told me that BEFORE I got sick!
post #12 of 18
My hubby is one of those squeamish types who won't eat or drink anything that's getting NEAR it's expiration date,whereas I sort of judge it by look and smell before the date and chuck it after. My father and his wife are terrible,there's stuff in their house that's so old!Food and expecially medicines!My daughter got sick there and they offered me children's tylenol that was more than two years past it's date!!When I pointed this out to them they acted like I was being ridiculously over-cautious. Needless to say I don't except many dinner invitations from them. Because I'm pregnant right now I've been alot more date-concious and I've been giving left-overs the heave-ho after a day or two.
post #13 of 18

What about eggs?

I usually respect expiration dates completely. My mom was visiting recently, though, and saw me getting rid of some old eggs. She said something to the effect that eggs never go bad if refrigerated and that the Chinese bury eggs and dig them up years later to eat .
Is she right or should I keep throwing out old eggs?
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am really surprised that there aren't more people like my dh out there, assuming that if you cook something well enough bacteria can't survive, so why even bother looking at the date! I mean, he'll eat dairy products that are several weeks past the expiration date (we have "best before" and not "sell by" here) if they pass the sniff test. I thought *I* was the extreme one in our relationship, actually checking and arguing with him if it was more than a week past! To be fair, I don't think he knows he's using expired items, he just NEVER checks!

Eggs are one item I don't think I've ever looked at the date on, but we probably never go very far past date. But I started this thread because I just have no perspective on the issue, so don't take my word for it!

By the way, my dh cooks a lot (more than I do) and is excellent in the kitchen, so he's not clueless. He's just convinced that the science is on his side.
post #15 of 18
Generally I will still eat/cook with something that is 7 days past it's date... if it still looks/smells good. Although around here, with the way Dh and all 3 Dds eat nothing seems to get to the "best before" or "expiration" date :LOL
post #16 of 18
I pretty much go by the expiration dates, I"m sure food is OK longer than we think, but still.... one of my little 'things"...
post #17 of 18
If your eggs are past the expiration date, the best way to see if they're still good is to put them in a bowl of water. If they're bad, they'll float. The fluid inside starts to dry out when they're old, so if they're still fresh, they sink.

BTW, old cream cheese is apparently not deadly. Neither DH nor I noticed any effects, even though it expired 4 months ago. It was low fat cream cheese, which is really a disgusting concept anyway. I'm sure it was made out of more petroleum than actual dairy products. The experience convinced me that I should just get the real cream cheese when I want it and eat it sparingly. There's something too strange about a dairy product that never turns green or goes bad.
post #18 of 18
This is interesting.

Re: Leftovers
My dh believes he has an iron gut - he will eat leftovers up to 7 days and sometimes even longer I do not have an iron gut so I go with 3-4 days at most.

Re: Dairy
SInce it is sold by "sell-by" date we usually base it's continued consumption on a smell test. The problem with this is that I have a horrible sense of smell so have to wait until DH is available to check things out.

Re: Seafood

Very cautious here - will only eat within 1-2 days of sell-by date.

With some things I am much more flexible - such as spices - Just found some ground cumin in my Mom's cabinet from 1986!!!! Tossed it! But spices seem to just lose their flavor - not go bad.
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