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Decoding the Secret Language of Food Expiration Dates

Decoding the Secret Language of Food Expiration Dates
Americans tend to harbor dark suspicions about that forgotten can of beans in the back of the pantry, far past its sell-by date. If you’re like most consumers, you probably just toss expired items on the better-safe-than-sorry principle (unless, perhaps, it’s a Twinkie). But there’s a good chance many aged food remains totally safe to eat, according to a new report (PDF) that blames the flawed food-dating system for tons of perfectly edible food getting wasted each year. While many consumers consider the dates printed on foods a hard deadline, they actually indicate maximum quality or freshness, not safety, explains David Fikes, vice president in charge of consumer affairs at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a food trade group. “Producers want people to have the best experience of product,” he says. There’s a window after the “expiration” date when a product is still edible—it just won’t look or taste quite as good. • Pack date: This is the day the product was manufactured.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-26/decoding-the-secret-language-of-food-expiration-dates#r=hp-ls

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