Every year we throw away tons of food that spoils because we do not organize its consumption well. Much, in fact, have not even really spoiled, only the best-before date has expired.
Spain is in the seventh place in the European Union that throws the most food products into the garbage, with a figure that reaches a chilling figure of 7.7 tons per year.
42% of the waste is not produced in the fields, in the distribution or in the stores, but in the homes themselves. Part of the food is thrown away due to a confusion: take the “best before or recommended date” by the “expiration date”.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BEST BEFORE DATE AND THE EXPIRATION DATE
Most consumers look for a date on the packaging and interpret it as the time after which they should not consume the product.
However, the date indicated may be that of “preferred or recommended consumption”, which is the one that the manufacturer estimates that the product retains the highest quality, but after that date its taste or texture may not be as good, but its consumption does not imply a risk to health. The date this occurs is the true expiration date, which is used on highly perishable products such as meat, fish, vacuum or pasteurized products.
We are going to review the products that usually offer a best before date and how to act in each case. If they are well preserved and their condition is observed, they can be consumed without problems after the indicated date.
FOODS THAT YOU CAN CONTINUE TO CONSUME PAST THE BEST BEFORE DATE
Salt is stored in mountains for millions of years, it doesn’t spoil that quickly, and it doesn’t really need an expiration date. Caution is only required with salt containing additives such as separating agents or iodine.
To be preserved, the salt must not get wet. Pure sea, Himalayan or table salt that has been stored dry season well even after years past its best before date.
Like raw salt, sugar can eventually attract moisture and clump together. But it does not spoil. Therefore, the expiration date is unnecessary for sugar and you can use it if you have it stored in a dry place for a long time. To keep moisture away from sugar and salt shakers, it is a good idea to put a few grains of rice in these containers, as they absorb moisture.
Even after many months and unopened, the honey is still sweet gold. It may crystallize due to temperature; if you want it liquid, you just have to heat it in a bain-marie. When stored in a cool, dry and hygienically perfect place, honey generally remains edible long after the minimum half-life date.
If mold appears in the honey, it is most likely not because of the moisture and bacteria that have left the spoons and that were previously in the mouth or on other products.
4. WHITE RICE
Unlike brown rice with its higher fat content, white rice does not spoil. When stored in a dry, dark place, the grain basically lasts forever.
Screw cap jars or cans are ideal for long-term storage of rice. This food also likes the dark. Especially when the packaging has been opened.
5. THE PASTA
Dry pasta made with durum wheat semolina can be enjoyed for a long time. If the best before date has passed, you should pay attention to the smell and composition of the paste to determine its shelf life. The exceptions are pasta with eggs or whole grains that can go bad sooner.
6. DRIED LEGUMES
Legumes of all kinds tend to keep much longer when they are dry. The beans, lentils, and chickpeas that you buy dried in packages can last for months. The prerequisite is to store them in a cool, dry place, but not in the refrigerator.
However, the cook time may change after the best-before date has expired. If they smell or look weird before or after cooking, you should stay away from them. The same applies in the event that parasites such as moths have established themselves.
7. THE COFFEE
The coffee begins to bitter as soon as the package is opened. But a sealed package with ground or whole beans doesn’t really need an expiration date. The package is sealed and lasts practically forever. Once opened, it gradually loses its aroma.
8. COOKIES AND CHOCOLATE FOR ETERNITY
Cookies and chocolate can be eaten for several months after the recommended consumption date. However, anyone who has eaten fresh chocolate knows that the taste is second to none.
9. MINERAL WATER
Unopened water can keep for months, but there is a difference between those that are packaged with plastic or glass. After the best before date, the release of substances from the plastic can increase, which, on the other hand, can always occur.
Therefore, it is not advisable to store water in plastic bottles or jugs. However, mineral water in glass bottles will keep much longer.
In principle, spices have best before and expiration dates, but if they are well preserved, they take a long time to go bad. Of course, after many months, the aroma may decrease and with it the flavor. The smell and taste are the best indicators to know if the product is still edible.
11. FROZEN PRODUCTS
Frozen products can last for several months after the best before date, especially if you have been absolutely scrupulous with respect to the cold chain. If the freezer is opened frequently, the quality of food in open containers may be impaired.
12. THE FLOUR
Like sugar or salt, flour can be kept for a long time beyond the best-before date. It is always important that you check it for moisture, lumps or moths. The taste (rancidity) and smell must also be perfect.
The Plodia interpunctella is the moth of the flour and other foods. It should be noted that it does not mean any danger to people’s health, but nobody likes to see them on packages. The long ones can perfectly perforate paper, cardboard and even plastic packages, making small holes to enter the product and feed. The way to avoid them is to store flour, rice or other dry cereals in glass or hard plastic jars.
Mustard is also one of those products that last much longer than indicated on the best before date. In general, mustard should be kept in the refrigerator when it is open. Even then, mustard stays unspoiled for a long time. However, the taste can deteriorate over time.