Dates on food packages – sell by, use by and best before – are commonly used by consumers as a gauge of whether or not a food is still safe to eat. Yet, according to a new report by Harvard and the Natural Resources Defense Council, these dates are not generally indicative of the safety of a food.
As a result, nine out of 10 Americans needlessly throw away expired food that’s still perfectly safe to eat. In all, 40 percent of U.S. food gets thrown away uneaten, much of it still edible (with a total worth of $165 billion annually!). For an average U.S. household of four, about $455 worth of food may be thrown away unnecessarily every year.
Here are some food-date facts that may surprise you:
- ‘Sell by’ dates are meant for retailers, not consumers, to help them with proper product turnover
- The phrase ‘Use by’ is only federally regulated for infant formula, because the nutrients decline over time; for most other products it’s simply a manufacturer suggestion for peak quality of the product, not a measure of the food’s safety
- ‘Use by’ and ‘Best Before’ dates can be determined using a variety of methods, including lab testing and consumer surveys; there’s no way to know how a particular food’s ‘use by’ date is set
- While 20 states restrict selling products after their ‘use by’ dates have passed, 30 don’t — the report asks, rhetorically, “are people in those 20 states better off?”
The end result is that you needn’t throw away a food automatically, simply because it’s ‘expired.’ There’s a good chance that the food can still be eaten, so think twice before you throw it out. A better measure of whether a food is safe to eat is actually one that many people ignore – the temperature at which it’s been stored. The report stated:
“Many people don’t realize that the amount of time food spends in the temperature “danger zone” (40° to 120° degrees fahrenheit) is the main criterion they should use to evaluate food safety, rather than total storage time.”
How CNCA Ensures Potency in its Supplements Through Expiration Date (and Beyond)
You may be wondering about the expiration dates on CNCA supplements. At CNCA, we test raw ingredients for potency before they are encapsulated, processed, or packaged. This is how we ensure that the amount of active ingredient(s) promised on the label is actually in the product.
We safely increase the potency of the finished product to allow for some loss of potency during its shelf life. This means that CNCA supplements still meet the potency stated on the label through the expiration date, if stored properly.
Once packaged, CNCA bottles are then sealed to protect against humidity and oxygen until opened. We also use opaque or brown glass containers to reduce exposure to light, which can also cause some degradation. So you can rest-assured that your CNCA supplements stay effective and safe through their expiration date and likely even beyond.