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Food Storage Guidelines

Proper food storage will keep your food both fresher and safer. Most store-bought food today comes with certain guidelines to help you ensure that you are eating high quality, safe food.

Make sure that you know what the guidelines on your packaging mean:

Expiration Date – You should not consume any product after this date – it is when you should expect the food to go terrible. Of course, realize that the date is relatively arbitrary – there is a chance that the food is just fine after this date. Nonetheless, to insure freshness and safety, you should throw out products that have passed the expiration date.

Use-By-Date – This is the last day that your product is considered fresh and top quality. Again, it does not mean that the food product suddenly rots or molds after this date. It is just a excellent guideline to follow.

Sell-By-Date – You can still consume products after this date. It is just the date that it is recommended that the store sells it by. You do not want to buy any products that are being sold after the sell-by-date, and you might want to inform the storekeeper if you find any (you might even be able to get a excellent deal on anything that is past the sell-by-date… if it is just a few days past, it is most likely still just fine). The sell-by-date is often on baked goods like breads.

Pack Date – This tells you when the food was processed. This date does not tell you how long the food will be excellent!

Also, different manufacturers stamp different codes on the bottoms of their cans or on their packages. Some are very understandable, and other ones are not. Because they all tend to use different codes, the codes can be tough to learn. If you are curious about a certain product, call the manufacturer! Most manufacturers have a toll-free number printed on their product.

Also, realize that the guidelines are not always completely accurate. There is a chance that your milk will taste terrible long before the sell-by date. If you buy bread that has a tear in the packaging, it very likely might be stale when you buy it, too. Do not buy any food with packaging that has been hurt in any way – ripped, broken, dented, etc.

If any food product that you buy changes in color, taste, or smell, it is time to discard it, regardless of the manufacturer’s recommended sell-by date, etc. Also, be aware that once you open a product, the date of lasting freshness may change – while it might have a shelf-life of over a year, once opened, it may only last for 2 weeks.

So, as you may have been able to tell by this article, the dates printed on food products mean different things, but none of them are exact days of when your food will be terrible. They are simply guidelines. If you are worried that a certain food has gone terrible, don’t hesitate to throw it out. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Also, the validity of the dates on the food products depends on whether or not you are storing your food properly. Food that is not stored properly may go terrible long before the recommended use-by-date.

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on food storage, please visit usafoodstorage.com USA Food Storage.



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