Each French person throws away 7 kg of still-packaged food products every year *. A waste that could be avoided, provided you change a few bad habits. Did you know that it is, for example, possible to consume certain foods after their expiry date? Santé Magazine explains what can be eaten safelyeven after the deadline indicated on the package.
Do not confuse DLC and DDM
There is a difference between date of minimum durability (DDM), or the famous “to consume preferably before…” Where “best before end of…” written on food packaging, and the expiration date (DLC), be the “best before…”.
- The expiration date indicates the maximum lifespan of a product. After this date, the product has expired and cannot be consumed. Consuming it beyond this date carries health risks.
- The date of minimum durability allows consumption of the food after date, provided it is stored correctly. The product is not expired but it may have lost some of its qualities. Before eating it, you must check that the packaging is not damaged or bulging and ensure that the product has a good appearance, a good smell and a good taste.
Pregnant women, the elderly and young children are recommended to avoid consuming a product beyond its minimum durability date.
Foods with DDM include:
- the honey, which can be stored for life;
- the chocolate, which can be consumed for up to two years after its expiration date;
- the dry products, like pasta, rice or lentils, which can be stored for several months in an airtight package;
- the Cans, as long as they do not have a rounded appearance;
- the UHT milk, which has been pasteurized and can be drunk two months after its expiration date;
- the soft cheeses (Camembert), goats, sheep’s cheese, blue cheese (Roquefort, blue) up to two weeks after MDD;
- the frozen can be stored for several months after their expiration date, as long as they are never thawed. More specifically, fruits and vegetables have a shelf life of 30 months, ready meals 24 months, poultry 18 months, baked pastry 18 months, breaded fish 24 months, fish 24 months, minced meat 9 months and shellfish 12 months;
- the spices, which never expires. At worst, they can lose their flavor;
- the sugar which, too, never expires;
- the plain flour, which can be kept for years, unless small critters take up residence in your package;
- the salt which is imperishable;
- the freeze-dried products, coffee or soup type in sachet;
- the dry biscuits that have not been opened or that have been stored in an airtight tin box. However, if the cookies are soft, consider recycling them into a cheesecake or crumble base rather than throwing them away.
Be careful, all foods from the same food family do not have the same storage characteristics. Thus, in the dairy product family, all fresh or ultra-fresh products that can be kept in the refrigerator (yogurts, fermented milk, fresh cheeses, fresh creams, dairy desserts, etc.) have a BBD and should not be consumed beyond of that date.
The special case of eggs: until when should they be consumed?
Finally, the egg storage depends on their shape. If they are raw, they will keep for about 21 days in the refrigerator, provided the shell is intact. If it is cracked, the egg should be discarded. If they are hard, they can be eaten for up to a week after cooking. Finally, the raw white can be kept out of its shell for a week in the refrigerator, when the yolk can only be kept for a few hours!
Expiration dates: be sure to interpret the labels correctly
According to a study published on May 1, 2021 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, there is still a lot to be done in terms of understanding the dates on food labels.
American researchers here questioned 2,607 of their fellow citizens about dates of consumption. Verdict? Less than half of respondents (46%) knew that the indication “best before”, or “to consume preferably before” in the French version, indicated that the quality of food could deteriorate once the fateful date arrived, but that a product could be consumed a priori without risk once the date had passed. And less than a quarter of respondents (24%) knew thatthe “use by” labeling, equivalent to “to consume until” or the expiration date (DLC) in France means that the foods in question cannot be safely consumed beyond this date. And even after respondents read explanatory messages about the dates shown on packages, many still struggled to fully understand and use the dates shown.
“Survey responses suggest date labels are so familiar that some consumers think they are boring, self-explanatory, or common sense despite misunderstanding the labels,” said Catherine Turvey, co-author of the study, in a communicated. “Unjustified trust and familiarity with date labels can make consumers less attentive to educational messages that explain the food industry’s labeling system,” she warned.