It is about time I get around to talking about the Expiration Date Poll, huh?
Well, the consensus was that they are not to be taken as hard and fast rules. No one who responded regularly threw away food because today is or yesterday was the printed expiration date.
Some said that how much they relied on printed dates depended on the product. For things like dairy and meat, expiration dates are taken more seriously. But for things like crackers, there's some wiggle room.
In general, I'd say that I have to agree.
Very profound, huh?
In other expiration date news:
Crunchy Chicken also commented on the same Slate article that I did. (Great minds? Anyone? Oh well, I can hope.) She highlights that the food scientist explained that those dates on our food packages refer more to optimum freshness, not safety, and are very conservative estimates. They have to account for people who leave the milk on the counter for a few hours before putting it away, or who accidentally leave the block of cheese in the car overnight in the summer, or generally don't follow safe food handling guidelines. (I like her line about taking "food on a tour of the city." It just makes me smile to think of a carton of milk with a touristy hat on, snapping photos of the town.)
While I am no food scientist or food safety expert, it seems to me that if you follow common sense, and try to follow food safety guidelines, you can get a few extra days out of most products. That is, assuming it was fresh to begin with. (You know, there's always one store in the area that might have cheaper prices, but every time you buy produce or milk or meat there, it either spoils days before the printed date, or is spoiled when you get it home.)