Confusion about ‘Best-By’ dates can lead to tossing of good food

Is inflation causing your grocery receipts to look like phone numbers? Second Harvest has a tip on how to save money on food you’ve already bought.
Confusion about ‘Best-By’ dates can lead to tossing of good food

PASCO, Wash. — With inflation causing food prices to increase, something people are looking for is a way to make their dollars go just a bit further. ‘Best-by’ dates might be causing some avoidable costly confusion.

If you find yourself bringing your meals to the trashcan when best-by dates close in, a local organization said those dates are actually misleading.

Second Harvest is a non-profit that brings community resources together to feed people in need through food banks. One of their tips to save some grocery money is just because the date is quickly approaching, food might not be expired.

“Those are just recommendations primarily based on, like, flavor and have little or nothing to do with safety,” said Eric Williams, Community Partnerships Director with Second Harvest.

It tells you when food is going to be at its peak, and that means it might still safe to eat for a time after the date. This might be days, or even years longer than the best-by date could imply.

“This is not the same thing as an expiration date. It’s a ‘best-by’ date,” said Jean Tucker, Philanthropy Director with Second Harvest.

This is where the costly confusion comes in.

“They are two very different things. And that’s part of the confusion that might lead people to throw away perfectly good food,” said Williams. “Please don’t be throwing out food that you could be eating. Now of course, if it doesn’t smell good or looks damaged or something, of course, throw it away.”

USDA’s ‘FoodKeeper’ app

The Second Harvest team recommended FoodKeeper, an app by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At the Second Harvest Warehouse in Pasco, a bag of uncooked tortellini was sitting on a shelf. The best-before date said December 2022. According to the FoodKeeper app, it said the pasta actually had two years from the date of purchase where it is still good to use.

The application is on phones and computers, and it lists an array of foods, from canned goods to meats and more.

“It’s a way to help really stretch your food dollar, particularly in times like this when inflation, particularly on food, is really high,” said Williams.

“We are seeing a pretty rapid increase in the number of people who are needing to ask for help with food, many of them for the first time,” Tucker said.

They said this application can help you save a little money by adding some additional shelf-life.

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