Are You A Pushover For Expiration Dates?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Expired FoodWhoever thought of putting expiration dates on groceries was a genius.  It's funny, but I don't remember seeing expiration dates on anything when I was growing up.  Nowadays, they're on everything from eggs to batteries.  You can’t help but notice them as you shop, and they certainly glare at you each time you open the refrigerator or pantry.  When it comes to edible items, I tend to take expiration dates quite seriously.  In fact, I’d even consider myself a wee bit paranoid about consuming anything past the expiration date.  That was until today.

I have such a taste for tuna salad.  Medium sized bowl?  Check.  One small can of white, albacore tuna packed in water?  Check.  Real mayonnaise?  Check.  Whoa, wait ... uncheck!  What’s that written down the side of my gently-used squeeze bottle of mayonnaise?  Best If Used By:  June 24 2012.  Aaargh ... today is July 22, 2012!  Panic sets in.  Conflicted about what I should do next, I decide to Google my dilemma.  Lo and behold, I find a website called Still  There’s a section called “Keep It Or Toss It” where you can enter the name of a product, then select from a list of packaging and storage conditions like opened, unopened, refrigerated, or frozen.  In return, you get useful storage information and a range of how long your food item will stay safe and delicious.  So, with regards to my mayonnaise:  As long as it has been refrigerated continuously, I'm good for at least 2 more months.  Excellent!

Of course, I wanted to make sure I survived my tuna salad meal before blogging about my experiment.  Over the years, I’ve had spirited debates concerning the usefulness and validity of expiration dates.  Several people with whom I’ve spoken believe expiration dates are a means to increase sales.  Some folks have even reminisced about their grandparents who, back in the day, used to eat stuff way beyond any timeframe within my comfort zone.  Although I have been hesitant to prove or disprove the accuracy of any expiration date theories, I now have a reliable resource for everything-I-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-shelf-life-of-practically-every-food-and-drink-on-the-planet.

However, one nagging question still remains:  Why on earth does bottled water have an expiration date?  I mean ... it’s water for cryin' out loud!

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carie shapiro

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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  1. John McCormack, CRS 07/23/2012 02:33 PM
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Rose King
David Tracy Real Estate - Friendswood, TX
Friendswood / Pearland / Houston Bay Area

Hi Carie! I'm not too paranoid about expiration dates on refrigerated items, as long as the food still smells good. The exception for me is canned goods. If they are more than a month beyond the expiration date, I throw them out.

Jul 23, 2012 03:24 PM #16
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Carie:  What a great post, and what a cool website resource you have provided.  I am not sure if we humans have an expiration date... but I think I know a few folks who should have one.  Spoiled rotten, they are.

Jul 23, 2012 03:32 PM #17
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years
Thanks for giving some good resources for an annoying problem.
Jul 23, 2012 04:02 PM #18
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

John:  Ah, fake milk ... I drink it too :)

Rose:  I'm with you ... canned goods are tricky.  It's better to just throw them out and start over!

Karen Anne:  Thanks!  Hmmmm ....  Now that you mention it ... I may know a few myself :)

Michelle:  You're welcome ... it was a great find!

Jul 24, 2012 12:35 AM #19
Diane M. Phillips Realtor 443-286-4365
Frankly Real Estate Inc. - Manchester, MD
Specializing in Carroll Co., MD

Carie ~ I found your post re-blogged by John & I'm so glad he did. Great post! Funny & true.

Jul 24, 2012 10:06 AM #20
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Diane:  Thanks!  So glad you found me ... thanks for stopping by :)

Jul 25, 2012 02:10 AM #21
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

  Thanks for the Ah-ha moment!
Featured you in my Weekly Post!

Jul 28, 2012 08:28 PM #22
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

As someone who used to work in the food industry, I know our product development team took this stuff very seriously and they would do a lot of studies and use rapid aging.  We needed to make sure the product would last a certain length of time (it varied by type of product), factoring in distribution time and time on shelf (and that the supermarkets didn't alway stock things correctly) and then customers having it at home on their shelves.  They needed to test many items...besides the obvious of whether the food was good/healthy/tasted good.  They would also need to look at vitamin degradation and color as well...because if these degrade, you haven't delivered your brand promise.

I don't get the thing on waters...unless they are vitamin infused.

Jul 28, 2012 09:15 PM #23
Linda Blumenthal
Hampton Crossing - Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - 631-466-4087 - Westhampton Beach, NY
NYS Licenced Real Estate Salesperson, CBR

Hi Carie.  Thanks for the link to the website.  I just sent it to someone else as well.  I agree, how does water go bad?  

Jul 28, 2012 11:10 PM #24
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great post!  I saw it on Kathys summary blog!  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jul 28, 2012 11:29 PM #25
David Grbich
Realty One Group - - San Juan Capistrano, CA
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484

Carie - this is great info - for some reason I thought it was going to tie in to expiration dates on real estate contracts . . . Regards Dave

Jul 29, 2012 12:13 AM #26
Athina Boukas
Virginia Capital Realty - Richmond, VA
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

The same thing may apply to prescriptions. They have a default expiration of 1 year.  I asked my doctor and pharmacist if they truly expire and they said "not really".  I would always double check with them though!

Thanks for the website and tips on food...I really never considered this for food items...especially mayonnaise.

Jul 29, 2012 12:17 AM #27
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Carie,

Hey I just came over from Kathy's post this morning with her Ah-ha moments..this is a great one. I'll check this website out!

Jul 29, 2012 02:45 AM #28
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Thanks for the link to -- have it saved now in my Favorites!!

Jul 29, 2012 03:45 AM #29
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

I take expiration dates with a grain of salt depending if something is in a box, a can, or cardboard. I have eaten many things past their expiration date and I'm still here. How does a manufacturer know exactly when their product expires. It is just a CYA suggestion.

Jul 29, 2012 03:51 AM #30
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

My daughter drives me crazy with expiration dates. I'm like you, water....really?? Come on! The one item I watch is tuna fish, and that's only because I got sick on it once.

Jul 29, 2012 04:41 AM #31
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Carie, great information! I didn't know there was a website for that. I've heard that yogurt is good for five days after expiration date as long as it's been refrigerated. I've eaten it five days past expiration and it's still good.

Jul 29, 2012 08:57 AM #32
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm a stickler for most expiration dates.  I have an ongoing battle with my dad because he doesn't factor in having opened the product.  Like packaged deli meats....he assumes they are good until the date even after he opens the package.  I've tried to tell him once he opens it the clock starts ticking and that date is no longer valid.  He won't listen.  He's gotten sick more than once.

Jul 29, 2012 09:07 AM #33
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Sometimes I respect them and sometimes I don't...depends on what it is. But never something with an odor!

Jul 29, 2012 01:47 PM #34
Carolyn Crispin
Keller Williams Tri-Lakes - Branson, MO
Crispin Team Sells Branson Homes Land & Commercial

I had a can of pineapples explode in my pantry.  They were ten years old.Result was a pantry overhaul and paint job.

Jul 31, 2012 10:24 AM #35
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