Dec 1, 2013

Use by/Sell by Dates

Holiday feasts are usually followed by leftovers and the trick is to consume the leftovers before they go bad. Below are some tips to help. The only food federal law that says must have a use-by date is infant formula.

Some states also have their own rules about dates for bottled water or foods, such as milk. Other dates are voluntary by manufacturers to tell consumers when the food tastes best, not when it’s going to make a person sick. The ‘use by,’ ‘sell by’, ‘code dates’, and ‘best by’ dates are all used for quality reasons not for safety reasons.

One group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York City-based, non-profit environmental advocacy group, report calls for putting sell-by dates meant for businesses, into code so they are invisible to consumers, although I do not understand how that will help.

A few guidelines follow. Bagged produce, such as spinach and lettuce should be tossed by the dates on the package. Bacteria does not grow in condiments such as mustard and catsup. It is OK to cut the mold off hard cheese, cured meats, and hard vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots.

Additional foods and their shelf lives, according to the USDA. Every food product listed should be stored at a refrigerator temperature of 40 F and below for the following shelf life to pertain.
Eggs 21 to 35 days
Lunch meat 14 days [unopened]; 3 to 5 days [opened]
Bacon 14 days [unopened]; 7 days [opened]
Cured Ham 5 to 7 days
Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb 3 to 5 days
Apples 90 to 240 days
Grapefruit 28 to 42 days
Strawberries 5 to 7 days
Raspberries 1 to 2 days
Grapes 56 to 180 days
Carrots 28 to 128 days
Cherries 10 to 21 days
Asparagus 10 to 20 days
Bunched Broccoli 10 to 14 days
Celery 3 to 5 days
Lettuce 14 to 21 days

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