Yesterday, I wrote an article about the amount of food that humanity wastes every year. It got clear that half of the food that we buy and produce goes into waste. Would it be because of the way it looks, or because of the “best before” sign, or simply because of a whim of ours, we throw away between 30% and 50% of our meals. This is not good at all, because there are a lot of people in hunger around the world, who would gladly use these amounts of food.
As I said above a lot of products are being thrown away because of the “best before” dates and “use-by” signs. This is normal in my opinion because the culinary culture and the knowledge of recognising what’s good for eating and what’s not lacks, nowadays. Most people in big cities rely on these signs to tell them if a product is good or not. The thing is, though, that these labels are not supposed to tell us whether some food is safe for eating or not, but aim to inform us when it is going to start losing its taste and qualities. What I mean to tell you here, is that almost every product, except for meat, eggs and a few others, can be eaten after the expiry date, you just have to make sure that it is not rotten. Here comes the question “How to do that?”.
Well, a sniff test is a good solution for this problem, although not all products change their aroma when staling. There are such as bread and some types of smelly cheese, which can’t be recognised by the smell if rotten. There are other signs for them, of course. Bread, for example, starts growing mould.
You probably wonder what can be eaten after its expiry date. Well, yoghurt, cheese, dough products, cans with veggies, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other products like these can be consumed after their “use by” period. They contain a lot of useful for your body bacteria, and won’t harm you. You have to be careful with eggs and meat, though, because they are full of E.coli, salmonella, botulism and other types of dangerous bacteria. I personally recommend that you put these products to a sniff test and if they don’t smell bad to cook them well, but if you are not sure how fresh and rotten meat and eggs smell don’t take the risk and trust the “best before” date.
In the past people knew how to recognise which meat is fresh and which is not simply by its smell and looks. They knew how fresh meat smells because they were buying it from the butcher’s and nothing was packed. This knowledge is long-forgotten now, and almost nobody can recognise fresh meat from such which looks fresh but is past its best and isn’t. People buy packed meat only and don’t know what’s inside the packaging. Specialists from Manchester Food Research Centre and fridge cleaning experts from London recommend that people use the “best before” and “use by” signs until their food culture enriches. You can’t tell if a smelly loaf of meat is not good for eating, if you don’t know how fresh meat smells, so you better trust the labels by the time you learn these things.