Food Expiration Dates: 5 Things You Should Pay Attention to Protect Your Loved Ones’ Health
5 things you should know about food expiry dates
Steak, eggs, canned soup — all kinds of fridge and pantry staples have a best before date on the packaging. People often confuse best before dates with expiration dates, but the two labels tell consumers very different things.
“It’s confusing,” says Ellie Topp, a professional home economist. “[The best before] date has nothing to do with the safety of the food. It has everything to do with the taste of the food.”
Here are five things you may not know about expiration and best before dates.
1. Only 5 types of products have expiration dates
Expiration dates tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume. A food should never be consumed after the expiry date.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandates that only five types of products need to be labelled with an expiration date:
- Baby formula and other human milk substitutes.
- Nutritional supplements.
- Meal replacements.
- Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets.
- Formulated liquid diets.
Best before dates are found on foods that will only stay fresh for 90 days or less. Some foods may be consumed even if their best before date has passed, unlike an expiry date.
2. Best before dates guarantee freshness
An unopened, properly stored product’s best before date tells a consumer how long that food will keep its flavour and nutritional value. It doesn’t have anything to do with a food’s safety, says Topp.
“[With some products] the taste may have greatly deteriorated, but it’s still safe to eat,” she says.
If someone fries or poaches a fresh egg, she says, it will stay together in “a nice, little package.” If they use an egg beyond its best before date, it will spread out more and the yolk may be more likely to break.
“But, there’s nothing wrong with the egg,” she says, “as long as it’s not cracked.”
The manufacturer’s nutritional claims may no longer apply after a best before date or if the product isn’t properly stored, says Cathy Paroschy Harris, a dietitian and spokeswoman for Dietitians of Canada. Orange juice may not provide as much Vitamin C and milk less riboflavin past the best before date.
The foods you CAN eat after the best-before date.
Other items may have compromised taste, but still be safe to eat. Ketchups and salsas may be more acidic, dry pasta may break when cooked, and cookies at the back of the pantry may just taste bad. It’s generally the taste, not safety that suffers.
However, foods must be properly stored according to package instructions to avoid turning mouldy or sour before their best before date.
3. Some foods to keep an eye out for
Even though some food remains edible — just less tasty and nutritionally dense — after its best before date, that doesn’t mean all food is safe to eat when that date passes. Health Canada does not recommend eating anything after the best before date. The Canada Food Inspection Agency is more lenient.
Generally, if the food changes colour or appearance, or develops a bad smell, it is no longer safe to eat. Dented, leaking or bulging cans should be discarded.
“When in doubt throw it out,” says Topp.
She’s most cautious about cured meats, saying she would only keep deli meats, like baloney, a few days after purchase.
Hungry snackers should throw away mouldy cheese, breads, yogurts and other foods. Topp says people used to feel comfortable scraping mould off the top of food and continuing to eat it. Nowadays, that’s not considered acceptable, as mould is believed to contaminate food beyond what’s visible to the human eye, she says.
Healthy people are unlikely to suffer any consequences if they fry up a steak one day past its best before date. But people shouldn’t toy with the best before date on foods that contain lots of pathogens, says Paroschy Harris. That includes whole, fresh meats — like chicken, steak or ground beef — and dairy.
“It’s like playing roulette,” she says. “You’re putting yourself at risk.”
A best before date and proper food handling go hand-in-hand, she says, and even lower-risk foods can become problematic if not handled properly.
Chips past their best before date won’t be as crunchy, but they also may become contaminated if people sharing them have dirty hands or double dip in the salsa bowl.
“There’s always a risk for something in food to go awry,” she says.
4. Frozen veggies may be fresher in winter
Fresh doesn’t always mean better.
Topp points out that fresh produce found in Canadian grocery stores during the winter may have less nutritional value than frozen vegetables.
It takes several weeks for produce to be picked and transported from warmer climates. As soon as someone picks a vegetable, its nutrients start to decline, she says.
Frozen vegetables, however, are usually frozen within hours of being picked. It’s not a significant nutritional difference, she says, but frozen veggies may be more nutritious in the winter.
5. Opened packages negate best before date
The best before date no longer applies if a package is opened or if the food is frozen, according to Health Canada.
Once a sealed product is exposed to air it can be cross-contaminated, says Brenda Watson, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education’s executive director.
The organization has a chart for how long different foods can be kept in a refrigerator or freezer. Watson recommends people purchase food with a short fridge life, like opened milk or cottage cheese, in quantities they’re likely to consume quickly.
If a food is properly frozen two days before its best before date, says Paroschy Harris, it should be edible for another two days at the start of the thawing process.
See more: 10 Warning Signs of Gluten Intolerance Everyone Ignores – And What To Eat Instead
More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed.
It is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans are suffering from a gluten intolerance that is not related to Celiac disease. Because of this, you want to know the warning signs so that you can be on the lookout for them.
If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:
1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
7. Migraine headaches.
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
6 Wraps to Use Instead of Wheat to Help Burn Fat Effortlessly
The list of problems above is what has led us to create a wraps list that balances convenience and health.
1. Coconut Wraps
Coconut wraps are the perfect healthy, low-carb alternative for anyone trying to reduce their bread, wrap or pita consumption.
2. Flax Wraps
These wraps are made from flax seeds and often the recipe will be gluten-free. The abundance of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans (which have potent antioxidant qualities) makes flax wraps a great tortilla alternative. Just remember to drink that water to help prevent bloating!
3. Rice Paper Wraps
If you’re looking for a light Asian-inspired snack or meal, rice paper wraps are a perfect choice. Briefly soak each sheet of rice paper in hot water to make wrapping the ingredients easier. You can get as creative as you’d like with rice paper by using a combination of different thinly sliced vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, and even chicken or pork. The best part? It’s light, low in calories, and will help with weight loss.
4. Cassava Wraps
A great way to achieve a grain- and gluten-free alternative is to use cassava wraps. Throwing together a bunch of wraps using cassava flour to carry you through the week will help make weight loss seem effortless, improve digestion, and lower cholesterol.
5. Paleo Wraps
Paleo wraps are a nice switch from traditional tortillas and give you the satisfaction of feeling full without filling up on wheat and gluten. In addition to not feeling bloated and uncomfortably full after a meal, eating a paleo wrap will help keep you energized and losing weight in a way that conventional breads never could.
6. Green Wraps
These wraps don’t include any kind of flour at all! All you need to do is break off a few leaves from your favorite vegetable. Whether it’s a leaf of lettuce, kale, cabbage or something else, you can fill it with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, a simple healthy spread, or whatever else you find delicious. Not only are green wraps delicious and nutritious, but they also minimize your calories, carbs and ultimately, weight.
Don’t Ignore: 8 Alarming Warning Signs You Are Eating Too Much Sugar
1. Cravings for Sugar/Carbs
Sugar is addictive. It’s as addictive as cocaine and its effects are similar. Sugar stimulates the production of dopamine, a pleasure hormone. It creates a chain reaction of sugar cravings as it’s so sweetly addictive. Then, that high sugar diet results in a hormonal response that brings you up, and when you crash, that triggers the body to want more and more, — even if you’re not hungry.
It’s not about the number of calories, what matters is the quality of the calories of the food you eat. Too much sugar and starchy carbohydrates (that break down into sugar) are as harmful to our bodies as hard street drugs and are responsible for more disease and death than illegal drugs.
2. Lack of Energy and Tiredness
If you are constantly feeling tired and you lack energy, you are probably consuming too much sugar. While sugary foods can give you an initial boost of energy, it’s only temporary, and the crash that follows is far worse than had you chosen something healthier.
Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., and author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great and Look Years Younger, told SELF magazine, “Energy is most stable when blood sugar is stable, so when you’re consuming too much sugar, the highs and lows of your blood sugar lead to highs and lows of energy. If you’re eating lots of sugar, your body probably isn’t getting a sufficient amount of protein or fiber, and those nutrients are important for sustaining energy. A balanced and nutritious diet prevents your blood sugar from going from a sugar high to a lethargic low.
3. Weight Gain
Sugar is free of fiber and protein, so it does not lead to a feeling of satiety, and the more sugar we consume, the more calories we get. Sugar triggers the release of insulin which carries the sugar to the body organs in order to be used for energy.
Hence, the excessive intake of sugar sends a message to the body to produce more insulin, which causes insulin resistance over time. In that case, the body is not able to react to the normal amounts of insulin, and cannot use sugar as needed.
Insulin resistance is linked to weight gain and obesity, as well as diabetes, as the pancreas becomes overwhelmed.
4. Frequent Cold and Flu
Too much sugar depresses the immune system. That’s because glucose reduces the activity of white blood cells, which are responsible for killing pathogens like viruses. Eating too much sugar on a regular basis makes us more susceptible to whatever contagion may be floating around because our bodies are less able to fight it.
5. Not the Same Sweet Taste as Before
Alpert claims that the intake of too much sugar bombards the taste buds by increasing their tolerance to sugar. Hence, you will start craving for even sweeter foods over time.
It is difficult in the beginning, but if you succeed to reduce the intake of sugar, you will also lower the tolerance level and thus you will be satisfied with low sugar amounts. After a certain period of time, some things will become just too sweet for you.
6. Foggy Brain
A study published in the journal Neuroscience found that mice fed a diet “similar in composition to the typical diet of most industrialized western societies rich in saturated fat and refined sugar” experienced a reduced brain function in only 2 months. That’s because high amounts of sugar affect proteins and neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for learning and memory. In short: sugar makes you more stupid.
7. Skin and Feet Issues, and Dark Circles Under The Eyes
The consumed sugar acts as an inflammatory in the body, and thus causes various inflammatory skin issues, like acne, eczema, rosacea, and excessive dryness and oiliness. If you reduce the intake of sugar, your skin will become clean and soft.
Moreover, Dr. Sherri Greene, a podiatrist in New York City, claims that the inflammatory effects of sugar might cause plantar fasciitis. This condition leads to pain in the thick band of tissue on the heels and soles.
The excessive intake of sweet foods could also cause adrenaline fatigue, which is often manifested by dark circles under the eyes.
If you experience the symptoms listed above, you should try to limit the intake of sugar as soon as possible, in order to improve your health and avoid numerous health issues.
8. You’re Depressed and/or Anxious
Numerous studies have suggested that there is a strong association between the amount of sugar consumed and the risk for depression, including sadness, social withdrawal, and lethargy. In fact, you may have noticed that after eating a lot of sugar you feel emotionally drained, as the crash it causes is both physical and emotional. A diet filled with sugar causes inflammation levels throughout the body to rise, which is also linked to greater instances of depression. Analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the higher a woman’s blood rose after eating refined grains and sugar, the higher the risk of depression.
Feelings of anxiety, like constant worry, nervousness, etc., can mean that it’s time to adjust that sugary diet.
Source: healthycures.org, healthyfoodhouse.com, naturallivingideas.com