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Reading grocery dates correctly can save loads of money

Posted at 8:32 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 09:42:33-04

Wasting money by throwing away perfectly good food. 

Just knowing what the labels mean on your groceries could save you cold, hard cash. 

Every day, Bernie Brooks inspects Reasor's grocery stores. It's part of his job as food safety manager.  

Once food of any kind hits the shelf, the countdown begins.

Bernie keeps up with health inspector recalls but mostly these, dates, that by law appear on all food items.

"I always read what the date says on it, take the freshest one and push the other back,” shopper Pam Anderson said. 

Anderson checks all the food labels before it goes into her cart, but not all shoppers know what these labels even mean.

Here's what they mean, “use by or before,” indicates when a product is at its best.

Use by is the last date recommended for peak quality. And, sell by is the date retailers use to know how long to keep that product on display.

None of these dates have to do with food safety, with one exception.

"It is not a safety date except when used on baby formula,” Brooks said. 

There are nutrients in baby formulas that dissipate with time.

What do these food label dates mean, after you buy the items get them home but don't use them right away?

"When a product has gone out of date while in home storage that doesn't mean that the product is bad or unsafe to eat,” he said.

In fact, 30 percent of the U.S. food supply is lost or discarded by people who go exactly by the use and sell by dates, when the experts say it's really unnecessary and wasteful if there's no damage to the packaging or can.

Reasor’s is just one local grocery store that doesn't let the food that's past these use and sell by dates go to waste.

"Products that we have here that go out of date they're donated to the community food bank,” Brooks said.


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