Did that can of beans expire a month ago? Don’t throw it in the garbage just yet. In a surprising turn of events, the USDA is recommending that because Americans waste so much food (we throw away approximately one third of the foodstuffs we produce), we should be more lenient with expiration dates — up to 18 months more lenient, in fact. Tom Colicchio even confirmed in an interview with NBC that most food expiration dates are not universally regulated, and that “sell-by,” “best-by,” and “use-by” dates are often conflated.
“Many products may have a sell-by date of, say, April 1, but they could be good in your pantry for another 12 or 18 months,” a USDA representative explains in a blog post video. “And by throwing those out, what you're doing is you're contributing to food waste in the United States."
Instead, the government thinks you should listen instead to the food freshness advice of the FoodKeeper app, which helps to estimate the shelf life of your groceries beyond their printed dates, based on food storage habits and the contents of your grocery cart. The app gives you specific storage timelines for food kept in and on your freezer, fridge, and kitchen counter. Foodkeeper will also send you reminders when the milk, eggs, or anything else is about to spoil.