National Day of cheese lovers: January 20See all
Like most consumers, you probably throw away food as soon as you exceed the consumption deadline. But are these periods really reliable, or do they serve mainly to pressure the consumer and the distributor to throw away a product by increasing consumption?
A Belgian media outlet, Rtbf, has presented an investigation in this regard.
The food has three relevant dates, which are the Expiration Date, Preferential Use Date or no date. The expiration date (DLC for the study) is the one from which the food should not be consumed. In this category we can find meat, packaged products, etc. The preferred consumption date is one in which the food, in the judgment of the manufacturer, can change its properties but can be consumed. In this category we find cheeses, yoghurts, etc. And the clearest example of undated product is wine.
For the test that this media did, they selected yoghurts, hummus, eggs, packaged pizza and cheese. They asked a specialized laboratory to proceed in 4 steps: date plus one week, plus two weeks and so on until 4 weeks. And that's not all: they also tried already expired products: a can of pineapple, a chocolate snack, a tub of margarine already started and, officially, expired several months ago and, last but not least: canned mushrooms whose expiration date was 2012!
The result of the analysis was that all the products were still perfectly consumable, including the mushrooms of the 2012 ... "At least from a bacteriological point of view," says Jean-Yves François, director of the laboratory responsible for the analysis. We have not performed more complex chemical tests that could have revealed problems of transfer of harmful properties of the container to the content. Over time, for example, a can can rust and contaminate the product it contains. "Although that was not the case.
Check labels and decide
In fact, many foods are still edible long after the expiration date. This is the case of coffee, sugar, rice, dry pasta ... To determine these famous dates, manufacturers use laboratories that perform the analysis and determine an expiration date according to various criteria, such as the ingredients present In the recipe, the manufacturing method, the storage ... To this, the producers add a margin of safety, because in the laboratory, the analyzes are carried out under optimal conditions, for example, with a conservation in refrigerators at 3 degrees, while domestic refrigerators show, on average, 9 degrees. In addition, beyond the indicated date, they fear that the taste of the product will be altered, even if from a sanitary point of view it remains perfect.
The ideal is to respect the conditions of storage in the home and, above all, learn to read the labels: The terms for consumption with expiration date, refer to products that are quickly perishable, and it is not convenient to consume them once this date has passed. On the other hand, products with a longer shelf life are labeled with a preferred use date, and can be consumed after this date provided they are stored correctly, do not damage their packaging or show signs of deterioration.
In the aforementioned study the statistic is quoted that only in Belgium, each person throws at least 345 kilos of food per year by expiration! In the face of such waste, Europe has appropriated the issue. Some Members of the European Parliament defend a better use of deadlines for consumption.
In the specific case of the cheeses that in Spain are framed as "Preferred consumption" it is only indicated not to consume it if it shows clear symptoms of deterioration: strong ammoniacal odor, decomposition, excessive itching at the beginning or sour taste.
Source Rtbf Belgium