How good is food after the “sell by” date?

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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - We waste billions of dollars every year throwing food out before it goes bad. 22News explains why eating food past its expiration date isn't necessarily bad for you.

There are certain health risks if certain foods have expired or been exposed to air too long, but most foods can still be eaten even after their “sell-by” dates.

There are different ways to see if the food in your refrigerator has gone.  If it doesn’t past the smell test, it may be time to throw it out.

“Smelling it, or touching it or tasting it even,” Chris Phillips, from Northampton, said.

According to recent research nearly $165 billion worth of food is thrown away in this country each year.  That’s 40 percent of the food produced here in the United States.”

James Wilson, from Northampton, told 22News it’s tough to know all that food is being wasted.  “Like even in supermarkets and everywhere else it’s very hard for them to keep the food fresh and get it out to us so we can eat it and feel healthy about eating it.  So yea, you waste food, you feel bad about it,” Wilson said.

However, folks at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts say there are too many people to feed to throw food out prematurely.

“There are more than 135, now close to 200,000 people who rely on the Food Bank and the emergency food network for food.  That’s 1 in 8 people across our region,” Andrew Morehouse, the Executive Director of Food Bank of Western Mass., told 22News.

Since there are no federal guidelines regarding “sell-by” dates, the food bank uses the national organization Feeding America’s standards to ensure food is still safe to distribute.

Those guidelines say most dairy products are good 7 to 10 days after their “sell-by” date.

Meat must be frozen by its “sell-by” date, but it’s still okay to defrost it and eat later.

And canned foods should not have a bloated lid or any major creases. That’s a sign it may have been contaminated and could make you sick.

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