With food prices soaring and the growing number of people experiencing food insecurity, reducing food waste is an essential and sustainable practice to implement in our daily lives.
Each of us can find ways to extend the shelf life of our foods. Before exploring the various methods, let’s dig into the meaning of food expiration dates and best-before dates a little further.
Food expiration dates: Eating the food after it’s labeled expiration date is generally okay. Expiration dates refer to the food’s overall quality and texture, not when it’s safe or not safe to eat. As long as there are no signs of spoilage, it’s acceptable to eat.
Best-before dates: Similar to food expiration dates, best-before dates are not indicators of food safety. You can buy and eat food after the best-before date has passed. After the date has passed, the food may lose freshness, flavour, and nutritional value. Rely on your senses to make a decision.
Learn more here about the date labels of your food.
Here are a few easy ways you can extend your food’s shelf life:
- Be more lenient about expiration dates – use your senses to determine if something is still safe to eat. If the product has changed colour, texture, or smell, toss it out.
- Store at the right temperature – ensure your refrigerator and freezer temperatures are correct. If the temperature is too warm, foodborne bacteria will begin to multiply.
- Use airtight containers and bags – to keep opened food fresh, store it in plastic bags and plastic or glass containers that are reusable and airtight.
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables – they have the same nutritional value and will reduce the amount of waste.
- Keep bread covered – damp and warm spaces where mould thrives are the worst places to store bread. It will last longer in a bread box, plastic wrap or a reusable, airtight plastic bag.
- Be mindful of how much you buy – avoid buying food you won’t use. For example, note what you have before heading to the grocery store. Plan your meals to reduce impulse buys.
Donate Food to Quest!
If you’re a food processor or retailer, think twice about tossing your short-dated stock! We accept short-dated, pushed back or overstocked products like dry goods, frozen foods, dairy items, fish and meat products, produce, cooking oil, rice, grains, baby food, formulas and canned goods.