While it's obviously smart for consumers to use caution when eating food that could make them ill, we can prevent a lot of food waste simply by understanding the types of "expiration labels" found on food products. For example, the following labels tell consumers nothing about a food's safety:
"Best if Used By"
"Guaranteed Fresh By"
Instead, each of these labels indicates that after the printed date, the product may not be as fresh - still safe to eat, mind you, but not of as high in quality.
dates are helpful in indicating safety. If something is eaten after the indicated date, it could potentially cause food poisoning. However, if the product is frozen before the expiration date, it may be consumed much later than the date indicated.
If you have vegetables that tend to go bad before you use them, consider whether they freeze well. For example, I used to have trouble with bell peppers and onions going bad. Now, I chop them up the day of grocery shopping (or the day after) and pop them into the freeze. Added bonus: This makes cooking meals faster! Not sure how to freeze veggies? Visit AllRecipes for tips.
Another option for vegetables or fruits that are about to go bad is to dehydrate them. Dehydration is easy and cost effective; learn how here.
DISCLAIMER: This article is designed to offer friendly advice. I am not a doctor or scientist, nor an expert on foodborne illness. Please use common sense before eating anything and always err on the side of caution. I cannot be held liable if you eat a food mentioned in this article and become ill. Isn't it sad that I have to post a disclaimer?
A version of this post originally appeared in October of 2009.