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Food expiration dates: What do they really mean?
By Ann Pietrangelo
Posted Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:30pm PDT
Related topics: Health, Food and Drink, Shopping, Tips
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Are you one of those people who pour the milk down the drain on the expiration date?
Expirationdates on food products can protect consumer health, but those dates are really more about quality than safety, and if not properly understood, they can also encourage consumers to discard food thatis perfectly safe to eat.
A recent poll of more than 2,000 adults showed that most of us discard food we believe is unsafe to eat, which is a good thing, of course, but it is important that weunderstand what food expiration dates mean before we dump our food -- and our money -- down the drain or into the garbage. On average, in the U.S. we waste about 14% of the food we buy each year. The averageAmerican family of four throws out around $600 worth of groceries every year. 
Which five foods are most often feared as being unsafe after the printed date? According to, weare most wary of milk, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, and eggs, and the site offers these helpful explanations:
* Milk: If properly refrigerated, milk will remain safe, nutritious, and tastyfor about a week after the sell-by date and will probably be safe to drink longer than that, though there’s a decline in nutritional value and taste.
* Cottage cheese: Pasteurized cottage cheeselasts for 10-14 days after the date on the carton.
* Mayonnaise: Unopened, refrigerated Kraft mayonnaise can be kept for 30 days after its expiration date or 3-4 months after opening, the companytold ShelfLifeAdvice.
* Yogurt: Yogurt will remain good 7-10 days after its sell-by date.
* Eggs: Properly refrigerated eggs should last at least 3-5 weeks after the sell-by date, according...
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