Are food expiration dates reliable?


Food expiration dates are often not as straightforward as many might think. According to experts on The Jordan Harbinger Show, these dates are typically more about freshness and quality than actual safety 1.

  1. Federal Regulation: In the U.S., there are no federal requirements for most food expiration dates, with the exception of baby formula. This means manufacturers often set these dates, which can lead to confusion and wasted food 1 2.

  2. Variability by State: Only a minority of states have specific labeling laws for certain foods like milk, eggs, and shellfish. The lack of consistency across states contributes to the confusion around these dates 3.

    Food Expiration Dates

    David and Jordan discuss how expiration dates on food products are not federally regulated except for baby formula. They talk about how standardizing expiration dates could save millions of pounds of food and billions of gallons of water from going to waste.

    The Jordan Harbinger Show

    646: Expiration Dates | Skeptical Sunday
  3. Guidelines and Misconceptions: Many consumers incorrectly believe these dates are federally regulated food safety dates. In reality, these dates are often just manufacturers' suggestions for peak freshness 1.

  4. Impact on Waste: Misunderstanding of expiration dates leads to massive food waste. It's estimated that up to 40% of food produced in the U.S. is discarded, contributing significantly to food waste issues 4 5.

  5. Trusting Your Senses: Experts recommend using your senses—smell, taste, and appearance—to judge whether food is still good to eat. If it looks, smells, and tastes fine, it's likely safe to consume, even past the printed date 6.

In summary, while expiration dates can provide useful information about the best quality of food, they are not strict indicators of safety. Using sensory cues and being mindful of storage practices are essential for making informed decisions about food consumption.