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Expired Food: What Is Ok to Eat and What Is Not

By Fredrica Syren:

When you know that almost 800 million people around the globe do not get enough to eat, and that poor nutrition kills 3.5 million children each year, it’s frustrating that about 40 percent of all food grown for humans around the world is wasted — as in thrown away. It is tragic and so unacceptable, and why we need to fight this very serious problem.

Many of us have an abundance of food available to usbut we are also exposed to all the media’s promotion of picture-perfect food. This makes us want to buy too much — and then we trash it once it’s less than perfect. Sometimes we also trash food because we think it has expired.

People who throw away food that has gone past its printed shelf life date do so out of fear that the food is contaminated and will make them sick. Unfortunately, these individuals, who make up 90% of consumers, are mistaken in this belief. I firmly contend that there needs to be more education regarding “sell-by” and “use-by” dates on packaged supermarket foods since both are merely advisory and don’t have much, if anything, to do with food safety.

The printed dates on these foods are there simply to inform the consumer of when the food will still taste best. Some of these dates are determined by taste tests, while others are just wild guesses. In fact, according to research, not a single food safety outbreak in the U.S. has been tied to food’s having been consumed past the printed date. Instead, outbreaks have been linked to pathogens present in food before or during processing, or from consumers storing the food improperly, such as leaving food in a hot car or not keeping it cold enough.

Watch this video about what you can eat what you should not:

What we need to realize is that 25% of our fresh water is used for growingfood that we throw away, which ends up being a huge waste of resources. That’s not the only way we are hurting our environment … when we throw away our food, it is sent to landfills where it decomposes and releases toxic methane into our already stressed atmosphere.

So, instead of throwing out an item of food because of its “best-by” date and immediately running to the store and buying something new, try to extend the life of your product. Your wallet — and the planet — will be much happier!

More information about how to know what expired foods are ok to eat or not:

Consumer Report

Food Safety News

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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