What foods can I eat past their use-by dates? – The Sun
BRITS unwittingly waste tons of food thinking it is "out of date".
But much of what is in our cupboards and fridges actually lasts a lot longer than we have been led to believe.
What foods can I safely eat past the use by date?
While some foods should always be chucked after the “use by” date has passed, there are other guidelines you can take with a pinch of salt.
It is always wise to pay attention to the dates when it comes to meat, fish and seafood, but plenty of other foods are perfectly fine to eat.
From eggs to milk, here are 18 items you can safely eat past their use by date:
- Bread – The use by date on bread assumes you’ve left it out in the kitchen. You can extend this by up to two weeks by keeping your loaf in the fridge.
- Chocolate – As long as your chocolate tastes OK, you’re pretty much good to go. Sometimes a white film might form on older chocolate, which is caused by the sugar crystallising, but it won't harm you.
- Hard cheese – Mould is unable to penetrate harder cheeses such as cheddar, so you can cut off any mould and it will be safe to eat.
- Yoghurt – As long the yogurt hasn’t been opened, you can usually enjoy it for two weeks after the best before date.
- Biscuits – Although your favourite snacks might lose some of their freshness once their best by date has passed, you can eat them for a few weeks after.
- Dried pasta – While dry pasta usually comes with a long shelf life, you can push this to three years if it is stored in a cool, dry and airtight environment.
- Canned goods – As long as your cans are undamaged and stored somewhere cool away from direct light, then they can last for around four years.
- Pickles – Preserved foods such as pickles can last for up to two years past their best before date if they're stored in an airtight container in the fridge – but they may start to lose some of their crunchiness.
- Frozen vegetables – If your veg is kept frozen, in theory, it can last indefinitely. While out of date goods won’t hurt you, the texture and taste may change over time.
- Salad leaves – As long as your leaves haven’t gone mouldy, it’s perfectly safe to eat them past their use by.
- Spirits – When taken care of properly, spirits such as whiskey can be kept open-endedly and the same goes for gin and vodka.
- Milk – You may be worried about milk, but as long as it tastes and smells OK you can ignore the date on the carton.
- Eggs – If you keep your eggs in the fridge, you can eat them up to three weeks after the use by date. But, beware of any unpleasant odour when you crack them – this means they should be chucked.
- Soy sauce – Packed with salt, which acts a natural preservative. As long as you keep the bottle closed, soy sauce will remain usable and the condiment remains fresh for years after it’s unsealed.
- Sugar – As long as sugar is stored in a cool container that’s air-tight against moisture, it will last indefinitely.
- Honey – Technically, honey doesn’t go off as it is a natural antimicrobial, meaning it does not decay.
- White rice – This refined grain has been packed with preservatives and packets that have not been opened, or grains that are sealed in an air-tight container, are unlikely to decay.
- Vinegar – As vinegar is often used as a preservative, its shelf-life is indefinite.
What foods should I not eat past the use by date?
Despite the long list of 'safe' foods, there are also a some you should definitely ditch. These include:
- Fresh berries – Fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries can carry a parasite called cyclospora – this can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and other nasty flu-like symptoms. Make sure you freeze any berries you know you won't eat in time and wash them before eating them.
- Soft cheese – Soft cheeses, such as brie, may contain Listeria, as well as E. coli —especially if they're made with unpasteurised milk – so should always be eaten by the "use by".
- Fresh meat – Freshly bought meat should either be consumed or frozen (before any bacteria has a chance to multiply).
- Fresh juices – Raw juices are unpasteurised and far more prone to contamination by bacteria so you should always chuck any that have expired.
- Sprouts – sprouting greens are grown in a warm, moist environment which means they can be prone to contamination and can grow bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
- Fish – You should never eat off fish. Fish that isn't fresh has increased chances of giving you listeriosis – a disease that causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting.
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