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Old 09-20-2019, 04:14 AM
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Safe to eat yoghurt past 'use by date'? Prompt answer appreciated!


I just found some yoghurt I'd forgotten I had and I want to know if it's safe to eat.

Details:

- low fat fruit-flavoured yoghurt (from reputable company)
- unopened
- kept in fridge since purchase
- 'use by' date of Sep 16

The Internet reckons that under the above conditions I've got a week past the 'use by' date.
I'd like to double check with Dopers.

Obviously it's not an expensive choice - but I don't want to waste perfectly good food.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:27 AM
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sniff test applies, if it still tastes like yogurt have at it.

I've eaten yogurt weeks past the use by date. It can go furry but other than that extreme I've never had one that was actively bad or harmful.

Mind you, I see that you mention it is flavoured and so I assume it is sweetened as well. I don't eat flavoured yogurt so can't vouch for what sort of others issues that introduces.
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  #3  
Old 09-20-2019, 04:30 AM
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Why don't you trust the "use by" date?

The question you have is, "Is this safe to eat?". There are a number of ways to answer this:

1) The experimental method: eat it and find out.
2) The cautious experimental method: sniff it, taste a little and if it seems ok, eat it and find out.
3) Hire qualified biologists to conduct an in-depth of study of the conditions under which disease-bearing bacteria grow in this medium, the rate at which they will grow in the conditions in your OP, the threshold at which they can be considered to have reached harmful levels and finally predict whether such levels have been reached by now in the pot in your fridge.
4) Accept the word of the qualified people who have already done this and printed it on the label for you.
5) Ask some people on the internet.

Why do you think 5) is a better option than 4)?
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
Why don't you trust the "use by" date?

The question you have is, "Is this safe to eat?". There are a number of ways to answer this:

1) The experimental method: eat it and find out.
2) The cautious experimental method: sniff it, taste a little and if it seems ok, eat it and find out.
3) Hire qualified biologists to conduct an in-depth of study of the conditions under which disease-bearing bacteria grow in this medium, the rate at which they will grow in the conditions in your OP, the threshold at which they can be considered to have reached harmful levels and finally predict whether such levels have been reached by now in the pot in your fridge.
4) Accept the word of the qualified people who have already done this and printed it on the label for you.
5) Ask some people on the internet.

Why do you think 5) is a better option than 4)?
It's clear that the 'use by' date has different meanings for different products.
I'm talking about an unopened refrigerated product, which doesn't go off as fast as many others.
But I agree that safety is important!
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:44 AM
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Here's what the FSA say about "Use by":

Quote:
Use-by dates are about safety
A use-by date on food is about safety. This is the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten until the use-by date but not after. You will see use-by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads.

For the use-by date to be a valid guide, you must carefully follow storage instructions. For example, if the instructions on the packaging tell you to refrigerate after opening, you should keep the food in a fridge at 5įC or below.

After the use-by date, don't eat it, cook it or freeze it. The food could be unsafe to eat or drink, even if it has been stored correctly and looks and smells fine. A lot of foods including meat and milk, can be frozen before the use-by date though so plan ahead.
If it were day or two old, I might suggest you go for it. But it's three years. How badly wrong could the "Use by" date be?
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:35 AM
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If it were day or two old, I might suggest you go for it. But it's three years. How badly wrong could the "Use by" date be?
Oh my goodness! My apologies - and thank you for your concern.

I did not make myself clear - the yoghurt was Sep 16 2019.

I agree that 3 years makes things extremely dangerous- but I didn't explain that it was actually 4 days.

(If this were an MMORPG, I'd send you some money )
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by glee View Post
Oh my goodness! My apologies - and thank you for your concern.

I did not make myself clear - the yoghurt was Sep 16 2019.

I agree that 3 years makes things extremely dangerous- but I didn't explain that it was actually 4 days.

(If this were an MMORPG, I'd send you some money )
Hah! That makes things very different, and my fault for not thinking through the dates. Well, the FSA says you shouldn't eat it. I say it's probably fine. Who are you going to believe?
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:15 AM
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Eat it.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
4) Accept the word of the qualified people who have already done this and printed it on the label for you.
5) Ask some people on the internet.

Why do you think 5) is a better option than 4)?
"Use by" dates are like oil change intervals on cars, in that the manufacturer builds in a fat margin of safety to insulate themselves against any liability. The OP is wondering just how fat that margin is.

IME yogurt tends to be pretty robust. I've kept cups of yogurt at room temperature for a week or so and found that they reliably taste fine and don't make me sick.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:20 AM
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I'd eat it.

Quote:
Food products are actually labeled with expiration dates to give consumers information about the food's freshness. In other words, most foods don't "go bad" or become unhealthy to eat when they've reached their sell-by dates, but they will start to lose quality in taste. When it comes to eating food that is expired according to its label, the most important thing to do is use your common sense. If it smells bad, looks rotten, or otherwise doesn't seem right, then don't eat it.

Say goodbye to days of throwing out your half-eaten tub of yogurt, because this is another dairy product you can eat after its package labels it "expired." Open yogurt will spoil sooner than unopened yogurt, but sealed yogurt will usually last one to two weeks past the sell-by date. When it comes to yogurt, you just have to ask: Does it smell right? Is there mold in it? If not, then feel free to proceed with making your smoothie.
https://www.bustle.com/articles/1065...he-fridge-just

@Beck, it's also safe to eat cheese after its "sell by" date.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:48 AM
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It wouldn't have even occurred to me to worry, or ask others in the 1st place. Four *days* after the printed date is nuthin' scary.

Especially yogurt. It's got "live, active cultures" that are good for you. A couple extra days for them to reproduce a bit more just makes yogurt ... more yogurt-y.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:01 AM
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Agree with the others. Just a couple of days past the use-by date? Nothing to worry about, especially with yogurt.

When Mom was still alive and my nephew was living with her, it used to drive her crazy that he absolutely refused to use milk that was even one day past the use-by date... as if it had magically gone bad overnight or something.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:08 AM
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Lots of food products get better with age. I despair of seeing "use by" dates on the cheeses that I buy that are already over 10 years old. I keep them in my fridge for an extra decade or two, and they're fine. Yogurt just gets tangier with age if it's sealed and not covered with mold or foul smelling/tasting when opened. Looking for signs of spoilage such as color changes, bad odors, texture issues, etc. should be combined with any listed expiration dates in judging things.

There's really far too little science behind the vast majority of date labeling. "Use by", "best by", and "sell by" all have different meanings.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:32 AM
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The label on my yogurt doesn’t say “use by”. It says “best used by.” It’s a guideline, not a hard line.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:01 AM
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Well I've eaten it.

It tasted fine Ö and no ill effects so far.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
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Especially yogurt. It's got "live, active cultures" that are good for you.
Not all yogurt has live active cultures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
Here's what the FSA say about "Use by":
That's a UK government site and glee is in the U.S., which has different standards for labeling (which is to say, no standards). The USDA says:
Quote:
A “Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula as described below.

Are Foods Safe to Eat After the Date Passes?
With an exception of infant formula (described below), if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident (Chill Refrigerate Promptly). Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:13 AM
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That's a UK government site and glee is in the U.S.
No, he's in the UK. That's why I used that site.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:14 AM
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I unknowingly ate a year-expired yogurt and nothing happened to me.

Not that I would recommend that.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:15 AM
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It's fine. Some of the solids will have settled out. If you like thicker yogurt, pour the water out. If you like thinner yogurt, mix it all back up again. Enjoy.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:38 AM
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If you like thicker yogurt, pour the water out.
No whey!
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:46 AM
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@Beck, it's also safe to eat cheese after its "sell by" date.
And sour cream, by several weeks in my experience. Do not try this at home.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:50 AM
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No, he's in the UK. That's why I used that site.
Spelling "yogurt" as "yoghurt" is a clue, although the Sept. 16 date is a USA-ism.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:26 PM
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I'd eat it.



https://www.bustle.com/articles/1065...he-fridge-just

@Beck, it's also safe to eat cheese after its "sell by" date.
You so funny!!
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:29 PM
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We use unopened yogurt months after the use by date. So long as there is no visible mold or off-odor. It just gets tangier. Cheese keeps for years. It has already kept for years. Our milk is called ultra-filtered and is still good up to a month after its date. On the other hand that milk is no good for making mozzarella cheese. Its protein has been denatured. It does not claim ultra-pasteurized but the effect is the same.

Last spring we cooked and ate a turkey that had spent three years in the freezer. It was fine and didn't even seem to have lost flavor.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:41 PM
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Yeah, I routinely eat yogurt after it's use-by date. Sometimes it gets sour enough that i don't enjoy it, but usually it's fine.

If it looked or smelled spoiled, I wouldn't eat it, of course. But yogurt keeps very well, and I've never had a problem, or heard of anyone else having a problem.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:42 PM
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the Sept. 16 date is a USA-ism.
No, that's perfectly standard UK usage.

Writing it as 9-16-19 would be a USA-ism.
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Old 09-20-2019, 02:55 PM
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I recently found a stash behind a six pack (I don't drink very often) that was about four months old. I tried one and it was fine. Wolfed down two more and still ok. Finally my wife had one and we were both fine.

Fire way I say!
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:59 PM
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No, he's in the UK. That's why I used that site.
The UK is "Obama Country"? OK.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:06 AM
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When Mom was still alive and my nephew was living with her, it used to drive her crazy that he absolutely refused to use milk that was even one day past the use-by date... as if it had magically gone bad overnight or something.
I saw a ink-jet printed Use By label of 14:22 19 APR 2020 which I thought was overly precise.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:43 AM
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No, that's perfectly standard UK usage.

Writing it as 9-16-19 would be a USA-ism.
Nah, we'd write 9/16/19.

I am slightly notorious in this house for consuming perfectly good food that has been in the fridge for longer than Mrs. J. is comfortable with.* I rarely eat yogurt, but would note that kefir (which to me is essentially runny yogurt and contains ''active cultures'') is supposed to keep an amazingly long time under refrigerated conditions. For the past few weeks I have been working my way through a bottle that has a "use by" date of December 1st.

*"That chicken is four days old. Are you insane?".
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:02 AM
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"Use by" dates are like oil change intervals on cars, in that the manufacturer builds in a fat margin of safety to insulate themselves against any liability. The OP is wondering just how fat that margin is.
This:

The manufacturer can pretty much control storage conditions (likely <4c) right up to the point of sale. Once you have it in your cart, you may well go straight home and put it in the fridge, or you might leave it in the boot of your car, out in the Texas midday sun, fo a couple of hours while you have lunch with some friends.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:22 AM
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I just had some yogurt that was 11 months past its "best by" date. Sealed container, back of the fridge the whole time. Nothing wrong with it at all, it was just a bit extra tangy, which worked fine for me.

I'd wager that 99% of the food tossed away due merely to concerns about the date printed on it is actually perfectly safe and still just as tasty.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:51 PM
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I just had some yogurt that was 11 months past its "best by" date. Sealed container, back of the fridge the whole time. Nothing wrong with it at all, it was just a bit extra tangy, which worked fine for me.

I'd wager that 99% of the food tossed away due merely to concerns about the date printed on it is actually perfectly safe and still just as tasty.
You would enjoy Andrew Tobias' online column - he's a big fan of expired food. Note that the current column doesn't talk about food, and that he is very liberal (former treasurer of the DNC).

Here is a WaPo article he linked to about a man who ate "expired" food for a year and lived. The article also notes the global warming impact of throwing out all of that food:
Quote:
That food waste in landfills generates carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. And you are not just wasting calories and money. You are wasting all the resources that went into growing, packaging and transporting that food.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:24 PM
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Here is a WaPo article he linked to about a man who ate "expired" food for a year and lived. The article also notes the global warming impact of throwing out all of that food:
thanks, that's interesting. And it's a horror how much food gets wasted.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:00 PM
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I saw a ink-jet printed Use By label of 14:22 19 APR 2020 which I thought was overly precise.
Such a print cartridge quite likely has a chip with an out date inside. If the printer sees that the date has expired, it will refuse to print.

Trying to print with a old, semi-dried out print cartridge can be bad for a printer. So they are trying to prevent that. The fact that this requires you to buy new cartridges more often than you might otherwise is merely a coincidence.

As to precision. There is going to be a point where it will transition from printable to not. If it just had a date you might not be sure if you'll be able to print or not during that day due to time zones and what not. A precise time gets rid of that.

A properly run IT department (okay, getting into mythology here), will have entered the out date in a DB which sends an email to a tech telling them to replace the cartridge just before it expires.

And, speaking of times zones, if you are on the west coast vs. the east coast of the US you get 3 more hours of print time!
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:02 PM
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I'd wager that 99% of the food tossed away due merely to concerns about the date printed on it is actually perfectly safe and still just as tasty.
Yeah, I'd make that same wager.

For most foods, under the conditions of the OP, it's not that hard to tell whether it's safe or not, especially non-meat products. People obsess about the dates stamped on products, when those mostly are just cover-your-ass tactics of manufacturers, who are the only ones to benefit when you throw out good food and have to buy more.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:07 PM
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@Beck, it's also safe to eat cheese after its "sell by" date.
As Qadgop mentions, I can imagine some people buying this cheese ("6 Year Aged Cheddar"), and then freaking out because it's one week past the date stamped.
"Aged six years is fine, but six years and one week? No way, that's too dangerous to eat!"

Last edited by guizot; 09-21-2019 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:21 PM
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As Qadgop mentions, I can imagine some people buying this cheese ("6 Year Aged Cheddar"), and then freaking out because it's one week past the date stamped.
"Aged six years is fine, but six years and one week? No way, that's too dangerous to eat!"
IIRC, there was actually an SDMB poster here some time ago who insisted, in a thread on this very topic using an old cheddar as an example, that they would not eat cheese past the expiration date, as they considered it too risky, and they thought it was better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:36 PM
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I just had some yogurt that was 11 months past its "best by" date. Sealed container, back of the fridge the whole time. Nothing wrong with it at all, it was just a bit extra tangy, which worked fine for me.

I'd wager that 99% of the food tossed away due merely to concerns about the date printed on it is actually perfectly safe and still just as tasty.
My wife will throw away anything that is past itís sell-by date.
I try to explain that thatís just there to cover the storeís ass, but she wonít buy it. Iíll use food (things like ketchup or mustard) that are years past their expiration date.

At least Iíve trained her to give it to me to eat, instead of just tossing it.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:01 PM
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Nah, we'd write 9/16/19.

I am slightly notorious in this house for consuming perfectly good food that has been in the fridge for longer than Mrs. J. is comfortable with.* I rarely eat yogurt, but would note that kefir (which to me is essentially runny yogurt and contains ''active cultures'') is supposed to keep an amazingly long time under refrigerated conditions. For the past few weeks I have been working my way through a bottle that has a "use by" date of December 1st.

*"That chicken is four days old. Are you insane?".
Just curious: was the December 1st use-by date December 1, 2019 or 2018 or 2017?
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:11 PM
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Just curious: was the December 1st use-by date December 1, 2019 or 2018 or 2017?
2019.

I'm a bit wary of drinking from a bottle that's been in the fridge for months, but I haven't yet keeled over from bad kefir.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Quoth ftg:

Such a print cartridge quite likely has a chip with an out date inside. If the printer sees that the date has expired, it will refuse to print....
But that apparently wasn't an issue in this case, because whatever sort of cartridge was used, it successfully printed the label that DesertDog read.

Back to the OP, the only time when you should ever bother to pay any attention to a use-by date, is if you're selecting between two items in the grocery store. In that case, yeah, you might as well buy the one with the later date. Other than that, though, if it smells, looks, and tastes right, it's almost certainly safe, even if the date has passed, and if it smells, looks, or tastes wrong, then don't eat it, even if there's still plenty of time before the date (it's probably still safe even in that case, but that's where you get into better-safe-than-sorry territory).

Last edited by Chronos; 09-21-2019 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:02 AM
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Such a print cartridge quite likely has a chip with an out date inside. If the printer sees that the date has expired, it will refuse to print.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
But that apparently wasn't an issue in this case, because whatever sort of cartridge was used, it successfully printed the label that DesertDog read.
It was an ink-jet printed label on the end of a can of chili.

I've never noticed a use by date on an ink cartridge, but I've had plenty of them dry out here in Arizona. It's why I switched to a laser printer.

Last edited by DesertDog; 09-22-2019 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:33 AM
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IIRC, there was actually an SDMB poster here some time ago who insisted, in a thread on this very topic using an old cheddar as an example, that they would not eat cheese past the expiration date, as they considered it too risky, and they thought it was better to be safe than sorry.
I don't believe I've ever looked at a use-by date in cheese. Is it moldy (in a way it shouldn't be)? Is it all dried up? If not, it good to go. (And if only part of the block is bad, I'll cut that off. I've developed a good sense of how far the mold extends beyond the visible part.) Actually, I buy a lot of cheese from the local cheese monger, and those don't have a date on the package.

I'm the family food examiner, as I have a better sense of smell and better near vision than my husband. "No, that's not just congealed fat, that's mold on that leftover chicken. Toss it."
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Old 09-24-2019, 07:46 AM
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Lots of food products get better with age. I despair of seeing "use by" dates on the cheeses that I buy that are already over 10 years old. I keep them in my fridge for an extra decade or two, and they're fine. Yogurt just gets tangier with age if it's sealed and not covered with mold or foul smelling/tasting when opened. Looking for signs of spoilage such as color changes, bad odors, texture issues, etc. should be combined with any listed expiration dates in judging things.

There's really far too little science behind the vast majority of date labeling. "Use by", "best by", and "sell by" all have different meanings.
Cheeses vary. I got back from holiday at the weekend and was surprised to find that a packet of mozzarella (the kind that comes in a plastic bag full of brine) in the fridge had swollen up fit to burst, and it was only three weeks past its use-by date.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:02 AM
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Cheeses vary. I got back from holiday at the weekend and was surprised to find that a packet of mozzarella (the kind that comes in a plastic bag full of brine) in the fridge had swollen up fit to burst, and it was only three weeks past its use-by date.
A fresh cheese like fresh mozzarella is obviously going to have a shorter shelf life than an aged cheese. Thatís why aging was invented.
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:53 AM
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A fresh cheese like fresh mozzarella is obviously going to have a shorter shelf life than an aged cheese. Thatís why aging was invented.
Aging is more for the hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda and swiss and parmesan anyway. I'd not seek out elder bries or epoisses or ricottas or mozarellas.
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Old 09-24-2019, 12:17 PM
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Aging is more for the hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda and swiss and parmesan anyway. I'd not seek out elder bries or epoisses or ricottas or mozarellas.
As it happens …poisses is one of our favorites. We found an old wheel in the back of the cheese drawer, yet unopened. It was dried out and shrunken. Not its absolutely peak condition, but it was edible. I agree, though, that I wouldn't seek out …poisses in that condition. I would add it to a fromage fort, though.

Last edited by Acsenray; 09-24-2019 at 12:18 PM.
  #49  
Old 09-24-2019, 12:37 PM
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As it happens …poisses is one of our favorites. We found an old wheel in the back of the cheese drawer, yet unopened. It was dried out and shrunken. Not its absolutely peak condition, but it was edible. I agree, though, that I wouldn't seek out …poisses in that condition. I would add it to a fromage fort, though.
And are you able to find …poisses that don't reek of ammonia? It's rare for me to find one in the US that does not.
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Old 09-24-2019, 04:42 PM
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I don't believe I've ever looked at a use-by date in cheese. Is it moldy (in a way it shouldn't be)?
The other evening I took a chunk of monterey jack cheese* into the family room to snack on while watching football on TV, setting aside an edge that had a couple of moldy spots. I made the mistake of not keeping a close eye on Pluto the field spaniel, who made a lightning pass at the table and snagged the moldy part.

He seems to be fine. For the Thursday night game I'll test him on aging kefir and moldy strawberries.

*yes, I am a cheese gourmet.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 09-24-2019 at 04:42 PM.
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