Turns Out Food Expiration Dates Are a Bunch of Bologna

Expiration dates aren't really... real. That's, of course, not to say that food doesn't go bad. It just takes much longer than what's typically printed on the package. According to this article from PhillyMag.com:

First off, those dates aren’t, as I always imagined, set by the U.S. government (with one exception, which is baby formula). And again, with one exception (baby formula), they haven’t got jack-doodle to do with your health, though I can tell I’ll have a hard time convincing Jake of that. “They’re based on sensory characteristics, not food safety,” Trout explains. As counterintuitive as it may seem, Big Grocer goes to the trouble of sticking those dates on everything from soup cans to Goldfish crackers to hummus to protect you from … soup or Goldfish crackers or hummus that looks or feels or tastes at all different from what you’ve always had before. According to a 2013 study, a whopping 90 percent of Americans don’t know that this is what the labels mean.

“There’s a difference between spoilage and safety,” Trout tells me. When it comes to food, “to spoil” doesn’t mean “to rot”; it just means “to lose valuable or useful qualities,” according to Merriam-Webster and Trout.

So basically, those "expiration dates" are for when that food's normal characteristics will vary. Not necessarily when it goes bad. 

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