Confusing sell-by dates may be costing you money

Confusing sell-by dates may be costing you money

Broad Leib said food can be totally safe well past the date, from cereal to salad dressing, even eggs. She said “use by” or “sell by” dates on a product have “nothing to do with safety at all. It’s just a manufacturer’s best guess of when that food is going to be the freshest and at the best quality.”

How do manufacturers come up with those dates? It’s often unregulated, varying from state to state. In most cases, if you eat food past the date, you’re not going to get sick.

(Read more: Dude, where’s my food? Drive-thru waits rise)

“According to countless food safety experts, the National Food Lab, there’s not been a single instance of food-borne illness or food poisoning linked with people eating food after that date,” Broad Leib said.

For McAdoo, who says she’s going to hold onto her food longer, the news is a game changer. “I think you’ve definitely saved me some money,” she said.

Now at least one member of Congress is proposing new legislation that would create a federal standard for food dating so the date on a bag of lettuce means the same thing as on a bag of lettuce in California.

—By’s Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis

Personal Finance


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