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A Farmer on TikTok Explains Why You Shouldn’t Rush to Throw Food Away

According to Harvard, 40% of American food remains uneaten each year, and the labeling system might be one of the reasons to blame. It disorients consumers, so they decide to be on the safe side and buy fresher food. 23-year-old farmer, Hayden Fox, made a video where he explains why the expiration date should not be taken that literally — and it gained several million views.

Here at Bright Side, we would like to understand why we don’t have to throw away food right after the expiration date, and if it’s safe to do so at all.

Expiration dates indicate peak freshness.

In the US, each person wastes around 219 pounds of food every year, and a huge portion of that happens because consumers think the products in their fridge are bad simply because they’re out of date. The young farmer from Canada explains on his TikTok — which already has over 1.6 million views — that today, unfortunately, farmers grow food just to see a huge amount of it being thrown in the garbage.

In his video Hayden responds to a young man who declares that he throws food out the day it expires. The farmer claims that expiration dates on the packages just indicate the date through which the food is at its best — meaning if you eat it before this date, you’ll for sure get the best quality of the product.

Expiration dates don’t actually indicate the risk of food poisoning.

The young man brought up a good point saying that expiration dates mean more to grocery stores than to consumers. Usually, packaged products with dates stamped on them help grocers track goods.

According to Ted Labuza, Ph.D., professor of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, 70% of dates on groceries are guesses, yet most people prefer to lose money by throwing “expired” food away, rather than eat food that’s expired.

In fact, an older product in a store can be fresher than a newer one depending on the conditions of transportation.

Sometimes food, like animal-produced products, can go bad before the label says it should, and sometimes crackers are still good even 6 months after they were expired. The dates are more about the food’s quality than its safety. For example, your chips may not be as crispy as they were when they were just produced, but they still can be safe to consume.

Though you don’t need to go crazy here — you still have to be careful about perishable foods like meat, fish, and dairy products, and consume them within a few days of purchasing them or freeze them. But for un-refrigerated foods it’s not the same, there may be no difference in taste or quality when the product is a little expired — and it won’t necessarily make people sick.

Eggs, for example, can be consumed 3 to 5 weeks after purchase, even though the date on the box doesn’t say so. A box of mac-and-cheese that expired in March 2021 can still be fine now if it was stored properly and wasn’t exposed to moisture.

Pay attention to the way the product smells and looks.

Use your nose to understand whether the food is ok — for example, smell that salmon before cooking it. You’ll know if it’s gone bad — it’ll have a strong fish odor and turn brown or gray around the edges. Also, fresh fish will spring back when you press it, bad fish will be mushy. The same goes for other products as well.

What food do you always throw away right on the expiration day and for what products is it not that important, in your opinion? We’d be happy to see your comments in the section below.

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