Use By Dates – Myth or Supermarket Trick?

You might have noticed on my last yellow sticker count a substantial Tupperware box of Florida Salad. 1.5kg for 75p to be exact. It was too good to miss. But you might have wondered how I got through it all.

I am not in the habit of buying more than I can use. I won’t hoard or over buy just because it’s there, and I loathe throwing away food. I’m not the only one who needs that food. But equally I have come to know how long products will last on the shelf, so, for instance, picking up several 450g pots of Greek yoghurt or like this Florida Salad which are right on their use by date (note this is not the same as the Best Before date), isn’t a concern for me. And it’s not because of how much I eat, but how long things really last and that often comes through trial and error.

Take this salad for instance. It’s use by date was 24th May. Yet I finished it on 30th May, a full week after the use by date. Now, I realise that supermarkets have to cover themselves from a legal standpoint. No one wants to be sued for food poisoning. But how many of you stick rigorously to these dates and throw products away just because of the numbers on the top? I know I don’t. As far as I am concerned, if it looks alright and tastes alright, I’m going to guess it’s alright to eat. And in my whole life I have never had food poisoning.

Of course, you can’t do this for everything or you at least need to exercise a little caution. You need to be careful about meat based products for one. Dairy is hit-and-miss. In my experience, eggs will last several months beyond their use by date if kept in the fridge. Milk I just keep using until it tastes off. Fish I generally freeze when I buy it, whatever the date and pull it out when I want to use it. With fresh veg, I keep going until it goes off, and I circulate what I have to make sure I am using first the vegetables which are on the turn so nothing is wasted. Very often I base my meals around the longevity of those yellow sticker items I buy.

So think twice before throwing away food that has passed its date. It could be good for days yet and throwing away food is a truly terrible waste.

Use By dates are for supermarkets. Use your senses and get the most from those yellow sticker buys

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