Expired foods: when they can be eaten without consequences

Expired foods: when they can be eaten without consequences

Food waste and how much this impacts on the health of the planet and on people’s well-being and survival is one of the most debated topics of our day. The numbers of the phenomenon are very high and one of the triggering factors is that very often we tend to buy more food than we really need to eat. The result is therefore refrigerators overflowing with foods that sometimes expire and are thrown away still untouched.

Before doing so, one often wonders whether it is necessary and whether consuming foods beyond their natural expiration date is really harmful to health . However, a single answer to this question does not exist because the danger of ingesting expired foods depends on the type.

What does the general rule say

Approaching the refrigerator or cupboard and running into expired products is a rather common event, in front of which it is more than legitimate to wonder if throwing them away is the only way. Not wasting food is an unacceptable aspiration but we don’t always arrive in time to carry out this virtuous action.

Although there is no univocal approach and there are many cases, in general the experts all agree in saying to try to avoid consuming foods that have an expiration date prior to the moment in which you would like to do so , especially if it is fresh products, without preservatives or not treated with procedures that guarantee a longer life.

Foods that must not be eaten after their expiration date

In particular, there are some types of food for which this rule is more stringent than for others .

  • Fruit juices . This type of drink is very often pasteurized and therefore more prone than others to contamination by bacteria or yeasts .
  • Strawberries , raspberries and blueberries . These are fruits rich in fiber and antioxidants and therefore beneficial for the body from many points of view. However, they should never be eaten beyond the expiration date because they could develop the proliferation of cyclospora, a parasite responsible for diarrhea , vomiting , swelling and flu symptoms .
  • All kinds of cold cuts . This type of food should be consumed at most 3 or 4 times a week and since they are almost always raw meat , it is important not to wait too long after opening them. In fact, even before assuming a different color from the original color or becoming smelly , cured meats can be carriers of a bacterium, Listeria , which can cause fever , muscle pain and serious complications for pregnant women.
  • Fresh or soft cheeses . These too can contain the Listeria bacterium, especially if made with pasteurized milk , which is why they should be consumed by the expiry date or at most 5-7 days after. Hard cheeses, on the other hand, have a much longer safe consumption time, also because it is much easier to cut away the part that has gone bad, which has mold or an unsuitable colour.
  • Green leafy vegetables . Even if consumed after being scrupulously washed, this vegetable has a tendency to carry dangerous bacteria such as Escherichia Coli , which proliferate even more over time. If present, therefore, it would be better to respect the expiry date.
  • Raw meat . Carpaccio or minced meat, if not stored in an optimal way and according to the times indicated, tend to be contaminated by Salmonella , Escherichia Coli and other bacteria that cause various diseases, therefore it is essential to consume or freeze them before they expire.

Foods that can be eaten even after the expiration date

However, it does not mean that everything that expires must necessarily and quickly be thrown away. In fact, there are many foods that resist the passage of time better .

Dry foods or those without water or those with a long shelf life are those that deteriorate less over time and consequently that it is possible to consume even after the expiry date. Products such as biscuits, pasta, rice , cereals and canned goods are part of this category . In the latter case, however, it is essential to make sure that the packages are not damaged and have been stored in healthy environments.

Beyond the individual indications, however, common sense guides you in choosing whether or not to consume expired foods .

In fact, if a food, expired or not, gives off a bad smell or once ingested has an unpleasant taste , it is very likely that harmful bacteria and therefore dangerous to health have developed on it or inside it.

Finally, knowing how to read labels correctly is essential . In some the words “best before” appear, while in others “best before”. The first is usually placed on foods that if eaten after their expiration date can really represent a health risk, while the second on those for which the time frame is wider or beyond which the food is still considered safe to ingest. .

To recover food without wasting it , Spain is passing an ad hoc law.

Beware of infections from contaminated foods .



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