In today’s Slate is an article by Nadia Arumugam titled: “Ignore Expiration Dates: ‘Best by,’ ‘Sell by,’ and all those other labels mean very little.” While I might disagree with her about how tasty expired food is, the last paragraph of the article contains a lot of wisdom when it comes to freshness labels and food safety:
“Expiration dates are intended to inspire confidence, but they only invest us with a false sense of security. The reality is that the onus lies with consumers to judge and maintain the freshness and edibility of their food–by checking for offensive slime, rank smells, and off colors. Perhaps, then, we should do away with dates altogether and have packages equipped with more instructive guidance on properly storing foods, and on detecting spoilage. Better yet, we should focus our efforts on what really matters to our health–not spoilage bacteria, which are fairly docile, but their malevolent counterparts: disease-causing pathogens like salmonella and Listeria, which infect the food we eat not because it’s old but as a result of unsanitary conditions at factories or elsewhere along the supply chain. A new system that could somehow prevent the next E. coli outbreak would be far more useful to consumers than a fairly arbitrary set of labels that merely (try to) guarantee taste.”
It’s true: while improper food preparation at home or in a restaurant can cause food poisoning, the most virulent forms of food poisoning are caused neither by domestic food preparation or food that has spoiled – the worst forms of food poisoning originate at the factories. If a product is OK when it makes it to your grocer’s shelf, it probably won’t do much harm to you, even if you consume it past a “sell by” date. But if a product has a problem before it reaches your grocer’s shelf, you’re probably facing a serious case of food poisoning.
If you have been injured as a result of food poisoning caused by tainted food and require the services of a Boston personal injury attorney, call The Law Office of Alan H. Crede at (617)973-6434 for a free consultation.