Ever tried the old floating-egg trick to see if those past-date eggs are still salvageable? We all know there are flaws in all systems. Sometimes those eggs are just fine and you get to have that morning omelette. Other times, not so much. So what do “best by” dates even mean? Should we pay attention to them?
What most people don’t realize is that these dates are determined by the food manufacturer, not some higher power, so there is no real standard of measure. This lack of standardization means that “best by,” “sell by,” and “use by” dates are rendered mostly useless for the public.
Unpacking the lingo is half the battle. Dates are slapped onto many cartons without much concern as to how to the consumer will interpret their meaning. This misunderstanding leads to millions of pounds of food waste each year.
Next time you go to clean out your fridge, make sure you aren’t wasting perfectly safe food by misunderstanding these commonly confused dates.
Thinkstock / Boarding1Now
Thinkstock / Magone
The date stamped onto the side of your ketchup bottle isn’t so finite. If you store it in the refrigerator after opening it, ketchup is safe to use for up to a year. As long as it still smells and tastes fresh, there is no need to toss it in the trash.
Angela Carlos is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @angelaccarlos.