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Activist Post: The Real Expiration Date for Common Foods

Activist Post: The Real Expiration Date for Common Foods.

he Real Expiration Date for Common Foods

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

The regulation guidelines for expired foods are few and arbitrary. They are also voluntary. They sprang up in the 1970s for more consumer information and perceived freshness. Expiration labels are only required by law for infant formula and baby foods; other laws regarding dairy are left up to some states and vary.

There is waste before, during and after a food item’s grocery stay. Now, more than ever, when throwing out food we’re unsure of, it feels like trashing bags of money – and most of it is completely unnecessary. But nobody wants to read yet another scolding article about it. So…

Now that we know our expiration labels don’t tell us anything at all – where do we go from here? What can we eat with confidence?

First, let’s define some terms for the dates printed on food products:

Expiration – This is an estimated date for when the item is expected to go bad and the consumer is expected to proceed with caution. Still, a surprisingly large amount of these can be expanded.

Sell by – That’s for the retailer, not for you. It’s about peak quality, like with flavor. It’s for store display and, maddeningly, much of this gets tossed – prompting a “dumpster dive” revolution. Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t have to relegate themselves to a dumpster to get this perfectly good food? But in the dump it goes first.

Best if Used By/Before and Use By – Again, these refer to quality, not safety.

Pack or Born On – This is just the manufacturer’s date stamp often found on canned goods and beer.

Guaranteed Fresh – This is mostly the baker’s way of letting you know how long you can enjoy the baked good before it possibly goes stale. It doesn’t mean it’s harmful, but could be stale. Homemade is different.

Yogurt and deli meat can last a week to 10 days more than the “sell by” date. Salami at two to three weeks. Most fresh meats, especially poultry and seafood, should be cooked and eaten within days. Eggs a whopping five weeks after expiration. When in doubt, gently place eggs in a big bowl of cold water filled to the top. If the eggs float, toss them. If they “stand up” that just means they are not as fresh but are still okay to eat.

Packaged items can last a long time after expiration but after a number of months you may notice a staleness and waxy taste which could be rancid oils. Packaged and canned items can generally last a year or more after the stamped date. Preppers, feel free to chime in because I know you follow good storage guidelines and practice rotation. High-acid canned goods like tomato don’t last as long as low-acid goods like green beans.

The key to keeping storable foods the longest, is cool, dry and airtight – ideally, never above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Canned goods included. If you see bulging cans – do not open! It’s rare to see bloated cans, but it could be botulism. Bill Nye made this crystal clear to me as a kid.

Real Simple and iVillage offer a list of items and a “true” expiration, some lasting for years, but again, take with a grain of salt. Throwing out opened juice after a week in the fridge? No way! Of course if you make your juice yourself, ideally, it should be consumed immediately for best benefits. Whole, natural foods and drinks do not generally last as long as the grocery store – but you knew that! For instance, when I buy homemade bread, I know to freeze it, otherwise mold is great indicator I waited one day too long. Lesson learned. Raw honey can last forever and pasteurized honey and brown sugar indefinitely.

Cheese can have a long fridge life too. According to one naturopath, Kerrygold cheese from grassfed cows can be bought in bulk at Whole Foods and sit in the fridge for six months – mine is still fine after one month.

Is it really a great idea to be eating old food? Debatable. Some fruits like bananas can have added benefits with age. Eastern principles frown on old or rotten food for its lack of nutrition and effect on the body or bio-rhythms (except for items better with age or fermentation). But, I’ve seen depression-era folks charge through their 80s having lived a frugal life eating the bad fruits first, expired foods and keeping the fridge well above the suggested 40 degree mark. (Where can I get an immune system like that!)

The bottom line is that expiration is perception and to follow your nose and your gut. If something smells or tastes funny, do not risk it! Common sense and intuition are good friends and thankfully, we are much less likely to get sick in a clean home than from a restaurant. If you think you might get food poisoning, immediately take homeopathic Arsenicum Album 30c and Activated Charcoal.

What have you noticed that you can eat after the stamped date?

Two websites devoted completely to real expiration dates:
http://www.stilltasty.com/
http://www.eatbydate.com/

All Recipes allows you to type in what ingredients you currently have and pulls up recipes you can use. You can save favorite recipes in your own online recipe box.

Love Food Hate Waste is an English web site devoted to helping people use food on its way out

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Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Activist Post: Supreme Court Gives Monsanto Full Ability to Sue Farmers

Activist Post: Supreme Court Gives Monsanto Full Ability to Sue Farmers.

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Do you remember the 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association 80+ plaintiffs (farmers and small businesses) against Monsanto? They were fighting biotech giant Monsanto’s ability to sue them for patent infringement when genetically modified seeds inadvertently appear in organic/conventional fields.

Yes, were talking about the wind or insects carrying GM seeds onto another farm, which to them is considered contamination. But instead of the ability for the farmers to sue for a ruined field, they can be cleaned out in court for not having permission to plant patented seeds. Monsanto workers have been found trespassing and gathering evidence on farmers’ properties. The lawsuit had sought protection from this overreach, as Monsanto has filed 140 of these suits and settled 700 without suing.

Organic farmer and President of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), Jim Gerritsen, had said:

Our farmers want nothing to do with Monsanto. We are not customers of Monsanto. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their gene-spliced technology. We don’t want their trespass onto our farms. We don’t want their contamination of our crops. We don’t want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence. We want justice.

And later:

We don’t think it’s fair that Monsanto can trespass onto our farm, contaminate and ruin our crops and then sue us for infringing on their patent rights.

A June 2013 ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC conceded to the plaintiffs’ argument that contamination from Monsanto seeds would occur, but ultimately dismissed them: “because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).” (source)

As Rady Ananda points out, a “trace amount” in this ruling, only means less than one percentcontamination of a crop! Those are not the percentages of contamination in the real world – i.e. Monsanto can sue, sue, sue. Furthermore, less than one percent contamination still leaves the integrity of an organic crop ruined. It does not settle the issue of Monsanto trespassing on private land to take samples for infringement cases.

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After the federal court threw out the 2011 lawsuit based on Monsanto’s assurances, OSGATA plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court:

However, Petitioners risk being contaminated in amounts much greater than 1%, and thus remain compelled to forgo full use of their land and adopt genetic testing of their seed supplies in order to avoid being accused of patent infringement by Respondents.

When the plaintiffs asked Monsanto to pledge not to sue, the company responded: “A blanket covenant not to sue any present or future member of petitioners’ organizations would enable virtually anyone to commit intentional infringement.”

The Supreme Court would not hear the case* on Monday, thereby sealing the previous decisions in the district and federal courts. Monsanto can sue with full immunity if one percent or more of a farmer’s crop contains their patented seeds.

Kyle McClain, Monsanto’s chief litigation counsel told Reuters:

Monsanto never has and has committed it never will sue if our patented seed or traits are found in a farmer’s field as a result of inadvertent means.

The lower courts agreed there was no controversy between the parties, and the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case brings closure on this matter.

Image by Thierry Ehrmann, licensed under Creative Commons

* Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al., v. Monsanto Company, et al. Supreme Court Case No. 13-303

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

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