Food Survival

A Prepper’s Guide to Food Expiration Dates

primitive survivors prepper's food

When going through your stockpiled foods, you might be throwing away expired food when they’re actually still perfectly good. Are expiry dates reliable? How do you know how to determine if something is still good for consumption even if it’s β€œexpired”? Here’s a guide to your food stockpile’s shelf lives!

Common Labels

Food expiration dates refer to food quality, not food safety. Federal regulations do not require meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, canned and boxed food to have expiration dates, but they add them anyway as a helpful guide to consumers and retailers.Β 

Here are three of the most common labels:

Best Used By

This suggests when a product will be at peak quality, but it does not mean that it is not safe to consume the product after that date. It only means that the flavor and texture quality may start to go down.

Use By

This date is usually found on more perishable items like meat. It’s alright to consume the product for a short period after the date, just don’t wait too long. It s used to indicate the potential of a product to achieve its intended purpose in a holistic manner within the given time.

These dates are helpful, but some people use them the wrong way. According to a USDA report, Americans waste abo0ut 30% of their food every year partly because of misunderstandings about expiration dates.Β 

Sell By

This tells retailers when the product should be off the shelves. The retailer is required to pull back the product after the date but it is still legal to sell them since they are safe for consumption. The law even allows the β€œsell by” date to be changed depending on the item’s freshness and wholesomeness.

Expiration Dates Safety Threshold of Foods

Many of us consider expiration dates to be a critical and exact parameter that should strictly be followed, that is why stockpiling food for SHTF can be tricky. Remember that these labels are merely printed dates for when manufacturers presume their products will be fresh and fit for consumption. But there are still foods that can extend these dates depending on storage conditions and other factors.

As a rule of thumb,Β  the more polished and processed a food is, the lengthier it can be kept past the expiration date. This is applicable to processed foods except for meat-based products like sausages, hotdogs, sandwich meats, and others. These meats are more susceptible to listeria bacteria, which causes listeriosis infection and sometimes meningitis.

Foods That Are Safe to Eat Past the Expiration Date

In the end, it is your judgment that can determine whether or not you should toss your food. Instead of looking at the date, look at the actual food. Try considering the color, odor, and texture of the item. Knowing what food is supposed to look, smell, and feel like is a life skill every prepper should know.Β Β 

The most common foods that can be consumed past their expiration dates include pasta, bread, frozen foods, and fresh fruits and veggies. They should be kept in a dry and relatively cool place. Fruits, however, should not be stored together with veggies because of their degradation property.

Canned foods can also be edible for one to two years past their expiration date when stores in a dark and cool place.

Here are other examples of foods you don’t need to throw in the trash as soon as the expiration date passes. These are also products you can start stockpiling without worrying about them spoiling

  • Hard cheeses
  • Cereal
  • Pickled items
  • ButterΒ 
  • Eggs
  • Catsup
  • Mustard
  • RelishΒ 
  • Yogurt
  • Salad mixes
  • Chips
  • Crackers and biscuits
  • Cookies
  • Chocolates
  • Peanut butter
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