I often take advantage of the BOGO sales of Publix’ ice tea. I just started one today and noticed the “use by” date is December 30, 2015. How can ice tea spoil?
How can water spoil? It can’t, but as a foodstuff bottled water typically carries a two-year expiration date because… well, actually no good reason.
That said, over a long period of time plastic containers or metal cans could potentially leach chemicals into their contents. I have some long-expired cans of iced tea that I have to throw out whenever I remember to do it, but only for that reason. I have glass jars of heat-canned vacuum sealed pasta sauce months past their expiration date which I will happily use without a second thought, as I have often done before. I like to think that the stuff gets even better with age, like a fine wine, though I doubt there’s any difference whatsoever one way or the other. The stuff is far better than typical mass produced commercial crap and no way am I throwing it out!
How can salt expire? It’s millions of years old, in many cases.
Yet the box of (uniodinated) salt I pick up at the grocery store has a expiration date on it.
I’m seeing more “For best results, use before:” instead of “Expiration:”.
I suspect the difference is perceived quality - if you use it 20 years form now (as in salt), it may have picked up some ‘off’ flavors.
But, for acids in cans? Yeah, I’m going to be a bit more picky.
The expiration date is the last date on which the seller will guarantee the quality of the product. After that date, the quality may or may not erode, but if it does, you can’t return it for a refund. As far as I know, nothing else is expressed or implied by the expiration date. How quickly the quality declines over time depends on how it is stored and what kind of container it is in.
It’s just marketing. Customers will worry more about something with no expiration date than they will about something with an expiration date comfortably far (but not too far) in the future. If you tell customers that iced tea never expires, or that it expires in 50 years, they’ll think you’re hoaxing them.
The expiry date is used for stock control. Retailers use it to decide which box to put on the shelf, and which bottle to put at the front.
Many items have actual “use by” dates long after the “best before” dates, and many items have “use by” dates long after the manufacturing date. One reason why manufacturers don’t like to put a date 10 years in the future on the bottle is because some customers don;t like the idea of eating food that would still be safe to eat 10 years from now: we are conditioned to believe that real food spoils quickly.
In Aus, the “stock control date” is called the “use by date” (??? whatever) , because manufacturers are only permitted to put one date on the can, and the phrase they use is defined by law: somebody decided that having multiple dates on the can, or having some cans labled “best by”, and other “use by” and others “manufactured on” was too confusing for some consumers.
Plastic bottles and caps are quite stable.when stored under normal conditions: I wouldn’t expect a material failure in the first 10 years (??), but the tea might degrade to something that doesn’t taste nice, particularly if there is a storage failure, and there is concern about stuff leaching out of the plastic, particularly with acidic dreaks (tea isn’t acidic is it?)
A friend of mine is in the honey business (it’s nationally distributed). For the last few years he’s been working on picking up some additional licenses or or certificates or something that are required to get into some bigger stores/chains. One of the requirements is that the bottles must have an expiration (or best buy?) date on them. He looked at me and said ‘it’s honey? wth’.
So now he has a dilemma.
He can put a ‘short’ date on it, say 1 or 2 years, but then he runs the risk of a lot of being returned to him in stores that don’t have enough turnover or don’t do a good job rotating their stock.
OTOH, he can put a 5 or 10 year date on them but then he runs into the problem of people seeing it and thinking exactly what you said ‘yikes, this stuff lasts 10 years, what did they do to it/put in it, I’ll just grab the other stuff’.
Regarding water and salt: People always jump on water as a stupid thing to have an expiration date, but drink a two year old bottle of water. It tastes like plastic.
As for the salt, I’m willing to bet that unless you keep it in a moisture proof container, it’s going to be one big clump in 20 years. Though I’d guess that you could dry it out in an oven.
Having said all that, I could be wrong but I think the FDA mandates a date on ALL food products so, really, your beef is with them in many cases.
Flavours in ice tea are very very tiny in quantity, and besides which they do convert in time, they bitter. Old drinks lose their flavour and become bitter. The esters turn to acids ?
The aging of other substances in the drink may kill the flavours too.
The salt has an anti-caking agent. This only tolerates just that much water and then the salt cakes. They don’t want anyone to get a burnt throat or nasal passage from caked salt … large tablets can also get stuck in the throat and cause burns… the burns can be fatal.
I sell expire food for a living…nothing extremely old, but that Ice Tea is perfectly fine for probably 6 more months, then taste might be affected.
Himalayan sea salt we just got says it was created 250 million years ago. Label says exp date is 2016. Guess they dug it up just in time!
If you’re just asking theoretically, of course it can ferment, given the sugar content. It shouldn’t if it’s properly treated and unopened, but that’s what can happen. It can also sour if infected with other bacteria. Bacteria and yeasts love sugar. This is not a case in any way similar to salt. That said, and let me reiterate, it should be fine. Just letting you know that, yes, of course it can spoil.
I really need a cite for “death by expired salt.”
The UK (EU) rules do seem a little more sensible. My salt does not have a sell/use by date, neither does the bottle of Worcester Sauce in my cupboard. In fact I like to keep two or thee bottles ahead on Worcester sauce as I believe it improves with age. (My wife does the same with stockings too). My daughter tells me that Coke in cans tastes ‘tinny’ as it gets near its date.
Does wine have a date in the USA? It certainly doesn’t here.
I don’t drink, but from what I observed most alcohols are coded, so a person could find out where it came from and when it was made. Same goes for a lot of canned food, specifically corn for some reason.
Stocking improve with age? This will improve my cross-dressing skills…
Wine is in a class all by itself. Its life expectancy is usually guesstimated by wine experts based on the varietal and vintage, but it has to do with flavor and not safety. The common wisdom being that reds have a longer shelf life than whites and the good ones may (or may not) improve with age up to a point at which they plateau and eventually may start to deteriorate. Good reds are frequently assessed as “drink now” or “cellar for two years” etc. and in some cases may be wonderful after several or many decades.
As a general rule of thumb whites don’t last as long, but there are always exceptions. The oldest white I’ve ever had was a wonderful sweet Riesling dessert wine that was nearly 50 years old. I’ve opened reds of unknown pedigree that I’ve personally had for a decade or two – that is, I no longer knew if I ever did what their optimum age should be – and they were always excellent. So, rule of thumb, wines generally last a long time if properly stored in cool dark conditions, and if one does eventually turn or react with the cork it just won’t taste good and you can chalk it up to bad luck and throw it out, but if it tastes good enjoy it!
They’re also sell-by dates, to help with stock rotation.
Coke, and all carbonated sodas, are acidic. The acid will react with the aluminum the cans are made of. The cans are lined with bisphenol A (BPA), but I’d suspect that over a long storage period that might be dissolved away. (And it’s not clear you want to consume that either. It’s been banned from baby products.)
Some artificial sweeteners also deteriorate with age so if the soda is a diet soda, it can get an off taste. I’ve noticed that in diet sodas past their sell by date.
Just the vintage date, if there is one. No expiration date. Like Wolfpup said, there may be maker or seller recommendations of when to drink it, but they’re not a “Best by 2023” kind of thing.
It sounds like most of the absurd “Best By” or “Sell By” dates are due to manufacturer stupidity.