I cannot wait to clean out my pantry later this month (with a friend). It’s one of the chores that is on my to-do list. Seems like I’m constantly pulling out food, checking dates, and tossing if it’s old …

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That’s one benefit of yearly (or bi-yearly) sorting through the pantry. You can check for old food items.

Which brings me to this question. What is the guideline to use when tossing old food? What if the date is right on the edge of being “old?”

And what about refrigerated items?

To be honest, sometimes I just can’t toss things. So I fudge a little and use them anyway …

Especially items like yogurt or sour cream or even whipping cream. I always use my “nose” and smell it first.

As Grace, over at A Southern Grace says, “… tossing food causes me great pain because in many cases, the food in question is perfectly fine and just as delicious and usable as the day it was made.” (You can join in on the conversation and read all of her comments, too.)

I also like what the Gourmet Sleuth has to say.

Can I Eat Food Past The Expiration Date?
You can certainly eat most foods beyond any “convenience date.” If the date is explicitly an “expiration date” then proceed with caution. For an example, a steak a few days past a sell by date is probably not going to hurt you. A box of crackers 2 months past a best by or use by date are typically just fine. Smell the food, does it smell OK? If it smells spoiled or rancid, toss it out.

Here are some other sites/guidelines to read:

USDA – US Food Labeling guidelines fact sheet

SFGate – The Dating Game, Freshness labels are a manufacturers’ free-for-all.

Do you fudge a little regarding dates on food, or are you rigid and you toss no matter what?

(My friend Barb feeds hers to the dogs and chickens, which, btw …. we are thinking about getting chickens. Do you have chickens?) Happy Weekend, friends!