Food for thought, best dates do they matter?

Have you ever wondered if the dates you find on your food really matter?

Many of us have in our mind that food must be thrown out if the date is passed due on the label, but that might be costing you big bucks.

WKYT's Amber Philpott is going inside your fridge for some food for thought.

We all do it, we make a list for the grocery and then head to the store.

We search for good deals, read labels, but throw in looking at best buy, expiration and even sell by dates and it can be overwhelming.

"I think a lot of us are confused about it and I think a lot of times we do get a lot of questions at the Extension Office about can I eat this, what about this date?" said Sara Talbott, a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent.

We asked Talbott who works for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension to break down the mystery that is those little dates on our food.

"Sell by dates are dates on products that they have to be sold by, that doesn't necessarily mean the product is bad if you use it after. Its just so the store can get it in and get it out," said Talbott.

"Best if used buy" dates Talbott says let us know how long the product will be at its best flavor or quality. She says if you use a product after that date, nothing is going to happen to you.

A "use by" date lets us know the last date recommended for the use of the product while at its peak.

You may be surprised to know that dating is not required by federal law with the exception of baby formula.

But what about when it comes to those staples like milk, eggs and meat, how long is to long to have in the fridge?

Eggs can be kept for three to five weeks in the fridge.

Talbott likes to let people know that you can actually freeze your eggs, by cracking them and putting them in an ice-cube tray and have ready for breakfast.

Experts say milk if stored below 41 degrees is good for five to seven days after opened.

" A lot of people smell their milk, if it's a day or two after they will smell it," said Talbott.

Meat, if not cooked right away should be frozen and stored for several months.

If you are like most people you probably have a spice cabinet that is full of many times duplicate spice containers.

Talbott says spices aren't going to go bad instead they may lose some of their kick.

When it comes to the freezer, how old is too old?

WKYT's Amber Philpott found something in her freezer that just might fit the bill.

Philpott found a frozen microwaveable dinner that had a best if used by date of 2006 on it.

Talbott says that is extremely too long to keep and should be tossed right away.

Then there is the pantry, most of the things you will find in there, Talbott says aren't going to go bad just lose some of their flavor.

And there is the question of food born illnesses.

"The things in your cabinet, the chances of those making you sick in the long run are not as likely as you getting sick from fresh products," said Talbott.

On that note happy shopping and date scouring.

Food manufacturers determine the dates for their own food and again are not an indication of product safety.

Talbott suggests not buying items unless you know you are going to eat them within a few months to save from having items sit around your pantry.

For more info on food safety go to the website listed below.

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