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Americans Throw Away 165 BILLION Dollars Worth of Good Food Every Year Because of Sell-by Dates!

Updated on July 26, 2017
Au fait profile image

Ms. Clark hopes to help bring better understanding and an end to hurtful, downright wrong stereotypes about poverty and homelessness.

Perfectly Good Food Is Thrown Away Daily While People Go Hungry In the U.S.

How many of you are aware that grocery stores discard perfectly good food and then have their employees pour bleach or some other poisonous chemical over the food so that poor and homeless people will not take the food out of the dumpsters for themselves?

This is part of the war on poor and homeless people. It may not be the intention of these stores to make things worse for poor and homeless people, but that is the end result.

Is there anyone who really believes it is moral to throw perfectly good food in the garbage and then ruin it to make sure no hungry person benefits from it? A person who would not purchase it in the first place? A person or persons that would not purchase the food because they have no money or Food Stamps to do so.

The excuse stores give for throwing away so much food, some with “sell by” dates that are not yet expired, and then destroying the food with chemicals or locking the dumpster is because of liability and tax concerns. That is their excuse for not donating the perfectly good food to soup kitchens or homeless shelters also.

Someone suggested to me in the course of writing this hub that laws require these stores to handle discarded food the way they do, so I researched it. There are no state or federal laws requiring that discarded food be destroyed or locked up.

Did you know there are more than 60,000 veterans who are homeless? Many of them are among the dumpster divers. That is the thanks they get for serving their country.

Good Food Thrown Away Needlessly

Lots of hungry people right here in the USA would love to have this discarded food.
Lots of hungry people right here in the USA would love to have this discarded food. | Source

165 Billion Dollars Worth of Good Food is Thrown Away Annually in the USA. YES, That Is Billion with a B.

Andrew Lam, writing for Huffpost Green writes that the average family of 4 in the U.S. throws away $2,200 worth of food every year. Lam reports that the people of this country throw away close to 40% of our perfectly good food every year and that is estimated to be about 165 BILLION dollars worth of perfectly good food thrown in the trash in this country every year.

Yet we have hungry people in this country and all over the world who could make good use of that food.

Reuters agrees with the above statistics and reports, “Just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. It also would lighten the burden on landfills, where food waste makes up the largest component of solid waste, according to the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council, a food and agriculture program], a nonprofit environmental organization.”

40% of America's Food Is Thrown Away Every Year -- under 3 mins

Tons of Food Are Wasted Daily In the USA -- 9 mins

Which Foods Most Often End Up In the Landfill?

What makes up the food waste? Fresh fruits and vegetables from grocery stores, packaged foods that have reached or passed the “sell by” date, which according to WebMD does not mean the food is no longer good, but that the quality (appearance) may not be as good after that date.

Most foods are good for 4 or more days beyond the “sell by” date. Some remain nutritious and safe to eat for several months and even years after that date depending on how they have been processed. Also, restaurant portions that are too large often do not get eaten and end up in the trash.

How to Understand Food Safety Dates and Expiration Dates

"Sell by" date. The labeling "sell by" tells the store how long to display the product for sale. The issue is quality of the item (freshness, taste, and consistency) rather than whether it is on the verge of spoiling. "Sell by" date is the last day the item is at its highest level of quality, but it will still be edible for some time after.

"Best if used by (or before)" date. This refers strictly to quality, not safety. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date

"Born on" date. This is the date of manufacture and has been resurrected recently to date beer. Beer can go sub-par after three months. "It is affected by sun. The light can reactivate microorganisms in the beer. That's why you have to be especially careful with beer in clear bottles, as opposed to brown or green.

"Guaranteed fresh" date. This usually refers to bakery items. They will still be edible after the date, but will not be at peak freshness.

"Use by" date. This is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

The only food items required by federal law to be labeled for expiration are infant formula and some baby foods. Some states also require pulling dairy products from store shelves on the expiration date. Otherwise putting sell-by or use-by dates is all voluntary on the part of the manufacturer.

The Above information is from WebMd. You can access it by copying and pasting the URL for WebMd in my reference section below.

Tons of Good Food Thrown Away Daily in America

Digging through discarded food in a dumpster and checking food labels.
Digging through discarded food in a dumpster and checking food labels. | Source

How Long Are Foods Generally Good?

WebMD says experts say the following about how long foods are good:

Milk – for about a week after the “sell by” date.

Meat, or pork, etc. -- 3-5 days. Personally, I would go with the 3 days and even that may be stretching it – just reporting my personal experience with it. Within 3-5 days you need to cook or freeze the meat or any food you have included the meat in.

Poultry or seafood is good for about 2 days. It should be frozen or cooked within that time period.

Eggs – if purchased before the “sell by” date should be good for 3-5 weeks. I have often used them for much longer with no ill affects. Much depends on whether or not you keep your refrigerator cold enough. It should be just short of freezing the milk, etc.

Where You Store Your Food Matters

Even dry, canned, or bottled foods should be stored in a dry, dark place at a temperature of around 50-70 degrees as much as possible prior to opening.

Refrigerated or frozen foods should be moved from the store to your refrigerator/freezer as quickly as possible.

Acidic foods like tomatoes and tomato sauce, etc., should be good for 18 months or longer if unopened. Green beans and other similar canned foods (low-acid) can be good for 5 years or more.

Cans that are bulging should be discarded and anything they’ve touched should be disinfected. Wash your hands well after handling them. Never buy canned foods that are bulging.

Never purchase damaged packages or packages with holes in them because you do not know what may have gotten into them, if they have gone stale, if someone has tapered with them, if they have become freezer burned, or a host of other issues.

Once a food product has been frozen and if it is kept frozen, the “use by” date or any other date are irrelevant. The freezing process negates that date.

Take the time to learn about food expiration dates to save money and to keep yourself and your family safe.

References

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/do-food-expiration-dates-matter


The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/is-it-ok-to-stretch-a-dollar-by-keeping-your-food-past-the-expiration-date/258415/


Andrew Lam

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-lam/waste-more-want-more_b_1825759.html


Reuters Food Report

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/food-waste-americans-throw-away-food-study_n_1819340.html

© 2012 C E Clark

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    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 weeks ago from North Texas

      Shyron, thank you for stopping by! Yes, I know most foods say 'best if used by' and have for a number of years. And that is more accurate because the older items are still nutritious and safe to eat, but the color or flavor may suffer a bit over time.

      I think I would be more concerned with sell-by dates or their equivalent where fresh foods are concerned, especially meat, poultry, fish, etc. Those things needn't get very old before they are lethal to eat.

      Blessings and best wishes to you all, dear friend.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 7 weeks ago from North Texas

      Bobby (Diogenes), you are too funny sometimes. Next time, just tell the 'jobsworthy' that bags have no appreciable nutrition and are even thought to be toxic and so you appreciate the offer but will pass. ;)) I did love your response though!

      No Sir, I do not steal stuff. For one thing, I can't fit much into my more recent abode. It is quite small and I had to get rid of at least 2/3 of everything I had and put still 9/10 of what was left in a storage space! So I try not to collect things.

      I did pick up a pint of chocolate milk a few months ago and drank it as I was driving my shopping cart around the store because I was so thirsty I just couldn't wait. However, I did scan the code on the empty bottle when I got to the self-checkout. The Bible says if the Lord can't trust you in small things then He will never trust you with big or more important things. So far He has provided food so there has been no need to purloin any.

      Thank you for coming by and commenting Bobby! xx

    • profile image

      diogenes 2 months ago

      It's the same here, but steal an olive and they are all over you! I pinched a doughnut in Tescos and a jobsworthy said, "SIr, you want a bag for that?" I said, "No, thanks, it's nearly finished." I always steal stuff...do you Misty?

      xx

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 months ago from Texas

      Au fait, this is such a fantastic article and I thought about it at the grocery store when I was looking for the sell-by date on something and I began to notice that most of the dates on food no longer say sell-by, most now say "Best if used-by" which you probably know.

      Blessings always my friend.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Indian Chef, thank you for reading and sharing the conditions in regard to this subject in your country. Also, thank you for the votes and share. Yes, it's getting more wasteful here because many cities across this country are now making it against the law to take things from dumpsters so that the homeless are charged horrible fines, $500 in some cases, for each item they are caught removing from a dumpster. When they can't pay the fine they are jailed.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 2 years ago from New Delhi India

      This is same all over the world. In India so much money and food is wasted in marriages and birthday parties. They throw away so much food after marriage and that too so costly one that over 100 people can eat. We should not waste so much good food. Very good hub and voting up , useful and sharing.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Shyron, thank you for the votes and share and kind words. Yes, I've considered writing about drugs, mainly OTC. People often throw them away needlessly because of sell by dates.

      There are some that a friend of mine can't take unless they are old because their new strength is so strong he can't breath when he takes them. Wish I could remember the name of them, but it escapes me at the moment. It's for colds.

      Blessings to you and John also. Hugs, and hopes you'll both stay safe and inside where it's warm until we get through this ice age.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Tamirogers, thank you for taking time to come by and comment. My mother was just the opposite and as a result, I am too. I know when things have gone bad from experience. Meat in the frig gets 2-3 days and that's it. Can tell from the smell if milk has gone sour, but there are things you can do with sour milk if you want. Know mold when I see it and if it hasn't taken over the entire loaf it's often possible just to remove the offending sections. We were poor growing up and we didn't have the luxury of tossing things out just cuz.

      Thanks again for stopping!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Larry Rankin, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this article. It is because the self-centered want everything for themselves and do not want to help the less fortunate. Just the other day I was at the mall and I overheard a man say that unemployed people should be put to death. Yup, that's what he said. They're a drag on society. People like him aren't going to lift a hangnail to help a person who needs a job, let alone food or shelter, and people like that seem to be the majority in our disposable culture.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Kristin Howe, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience, and for the votes. Fruits and veggies are usually pretty obvious if they're spoiled -- if you're talking fresh fruits and vegetables. Meat is often obvious too -- it looks and smells bad often times, but if you know it's been out for a long time (more than an hour, or less if it's outside in high heat) or if you know it hasn't been handled properly by the people preparing it, avoid it. Lots of people throw food away way too soon and it costs them a lot of money over the course of a month or a year.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      pstraubie48, thank you for reading and commenting and for your high praise, and I always appreciate the angels. When bread is moldy it's easy to see the mold. I just tear it away if it's just a little bit.

      Easy to see if a can is damaged too. If you've purchased it ad deemed it acceptable when you bought it, what has happened in your cupboard to change that?

      If the can was in good shape when you bought it and you haven't substituted it for a baseball or a bowling ball, it should still be fine. Generally the cans that are damaged have obvious dents, or liquid leaking from them, or the tin may be discolored.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Peachpurple, thank you for your comment. I rather think God, like most fathers, is very disappointed in his children. Sad because of the awful things we do to each other, and because some won't make it into the Kingdom.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Vocalcoach, thank you for reading and commenting on this article, for the votes and the share. Yes, it is terrible to waste so much food when there are hungry people who have little or no food. It is also causing people on tight budgets to have tighter budgets because they are throwing away perfectly good food. Their money would go further if they didn't throw away all that good food. Grocery stores and restaurants could lower their prices a little if they didn't have to offset the cost of throwing away perfectly good food.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Peggy W, thank you for commenting, sharing, and G+ing this article! Canned foods can usually be kept for years. You mean canned foods can actually lose more flavor than the canning process has already taken from them? How will one notice if even more of that favor has dissipated since they are already reduced to mush in most cases anyway?

      I used a 5 year old package of flan mix before Christmas. It came out fine with no ill affects on me. If there are no bugs or worms and the container is in tact, I see no reason why most canned or boxed/packaged foods can't be utilized.

      Thanks again for everything!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      I have seen the TV show that Peggy is talking about, I agree. Prescription drugs are the same thing, they lose their strength, but most are still safe to use.

      This is a fantastic article. Voted up, UAI and shared again

      Blessings and hugs to you my friend.

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 2 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      WOW. I must admit I am guilty of this..My mother was one of those that threw things away way too early..thanks for the hub..gave me lots to think about!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      It's crazy how much we waste in this society. Not only do we have plenty of food, if we didn't build a single additional house, there'd still be plenty of housing. Yet people are starving and homeless, crazy!

      Great article!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub. There was a news segment about this, two years ago, on a morning talk show, that my mom and I saw. I have the list from the website of how long veggies and fruits last, as well for dairy and meats, too. Voted up and up.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      The main foods I will not eat beyond expiration dates besides breads which become moldy are canned foods. Too much risk involved there for me. Inspecting cans for bulges at the lid is a tip off not to purchase and certainly not to use.

      Aufait, once again your article hits me right smack dab in the face---it hurts to know of all the food thrown away when just down the street thee are so many hungry little ones.

      Thank you for being a voice that needs to be heard.

      Angels are on the way this morning ps

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      America is not the only one, even our country is doing the same thing, god must be very angry

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thanks for this excellent hub! It's just a crime when it comes to how much food we throw away. People are starving, children are hungry...it's inexcusable.

      You have provided us with a good wake-up call.

      I'll be sharing this and voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      On the Today Show this morning I viewed a segment of whether foods past a certain sell date could safely be kept or should be tossed. This seems to be a regular series since it is at least the 3rd time I have seen it...all with different pantry foods being shown.

      For the most part, the reason the nutrition expert would put canned and packaged foods in the "toss category" is merely because it has lost some of its flavor which has degraded over time. Many foods can be kept literally for several years beyond the suggested sale dates and still be safe to consume. Of course that varies depending upon the food. Most of the foods were put in the "keep category" past the sell date.

      Good topic to once again share and this time I will G+ it as well. People should know this!

    • crazyhorsesghost profile image

      Thomas Byers 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks Au fait. I have read most of your Hub Pages and I think they are wonderful. I just got back from raiding Grocery Store Dumpsters for the last 6 hours. We got a huge load of food tonight that will be used to feed many hungry people. I really appreciate you writing about the homeless. I am going to be sending links to your Hubs to friends of mine to read. I hope that you and yours have a great New Year. I can't believe its already 2015. I have so much to do. Well I'm going to get busy. Peace to everyone and I hope that the Great Spirit brings peace to all of you.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Crazyhorsesghost, thank you for your continued interest in this article and the issues presented here. Very glad you found this article useful and worthwhile also. Agree with you totally regarding the reason many self-described Christians go to church.

      You would likely find my article titled "It Is Against the Law to Be Homeless or To Help Homeless People In the USA! The Meanest Cities in the United States." I have printed Matthew 25:31 at the end of it because I truly believe many self-described Christians have not read their Bibles if indeed they own one. I think they use it mainly as a coffee table book to impress visitors, or perhaps as a doorstop, but I think they have not read and digested the book.

      All you say is correct. We're on the same page.

      Hope 2015 will be a happy, healthful, peaceful year, for you and those you love.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile image

      Thomas Byers 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks Au fait. I really enjoyed your Hub Page and no I'm not a Christian though I was once. I was raised Catholic but have returned to the religion of my Native American Grandfathers. (Sioux )

      Its sad that most people who go to Christian Churches go there to be seen in their fancy Sunday Clothes and try their best to build a bigger building than the church down the street. The people are the Church and not the building. I challenge every Christian to sell their fancy clothes and cars and buy coats and food for the poor and hungry. And its their Bible in Matthew 25 / 31-46 where it talks about this.

      Its really sad that religion in America and other countries got mixed up in politics and it burns me up to see people raise funds to send out of the USA when 1 in 5 children in America go to bed hungry. Grocery Stores fill their dumpsters full of perfectly good food and then lock the dumpsters. America is really screwed up and its only going to get worse not better.

      America's roads and bridges are in really bad shape. Most will fail in the next 25 - 40 years. Nothing is really being done to prevent this. All these years after the Hurricane 15,000 people still live on the streets of New Orleans. The people in America need to wake up and throw all the Republican and Democratic politicians out of office and put people in office that would be for America. All the lobbyists in Washington DC need to go. A lot of American politicians need to be tried for treason.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Crazyhorsesghost, thank you for taking time to read this article and to share your thoughts on this important subject. There is absolutely no reason for anyone in the richest nation on earth to be without food, shelter, or medical care. The fact that so many people believe this country is based on Christian values only adds insult to injury. If indeed this country is based on Christian values, where are the Christians? Why do we have even one hungry or homeless person in this country?

      Hope you had a happy Christmas and that the New Year will bring the best possible good fortune, good health, joy, and peace.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Peggy W, thank you for sharing this article and helping to raise people's awareness on this subject. Yes, though many people have food a plenty, there are sadly people in this world, including children right here in the US, who do not have enough food and who go to bed hungry every night. If you know someone who is struggling, take them a nice big grocery bag of food.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile image

      Thomas Byers 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

      This is a really good Hub Page with a lot of great information. 1 in 5 American children went to bed hungry tonight. 15,000 homeless people are still living on the streets of New Orleans. The average professing Christian should read all of Matthew 25 31-46 carefully. And then think carefully about it. This is a Hub Page that everyone in America should read.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      With all of the parties and thoughts of food during this holiday season of year, it is sad to think that there are hungry people in this world. This is an important topic regarding the use of perfectly good food. Happy to share once again. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and soon to be new year.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Deborah-Diane for your comment and share!

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      This is such an informative article about a topic that confuses so many people. I'm sharing this again!

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Askme, for stopping by and commenting on this article. We do have a Trader Joe's on Greenville Av in Dallas.

      Other people have already gotten the great idea of selling food past the sell-by date and that's a good thing. Glad Trader Joe's is jumping on the bandwagon.

      It is the issue of liability that businesses use for throwing away perfectly good food, pouring bleach over it and/or locking the dumpsters they throw it in.

      There is always the chance that food not properly stored will make someone sick. What happened to the skill we all used to have in seeing and smelling things so that we knew it was bad? And of taking care to make sure things were stored and refrigerated properly to avoid spoilage and sickness?

      Thank you for adding important information to this article!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Victoria Lynn for reading and commenting on this article and for sharing your thoughts on this important issue! Sell by dates are almost always meaningless because they are for the seller, not the buyer, and use by dates can be just as limited in value. Much depends on how items are stored -- have they been allowed to sit out for long periods of time? That will shorten their 'safe to use' life quicker than anything else.

      The biggest problem is that sellers (grocery stores and restaurants) are throwing away and destroying tons of food everyday when there are so many hungry people in our country who could make use of it.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Peggy W for sharing and helping to spread the word that food is often good much longer than the sell by and use by dates stamped on them. I really like some of the ideas commenters have suggested here that will allow people to purchase these foods at a huge discount. I would really like to see these foods donated to food kitchens rather than destroyed.

    • Askme profile image

      Pritchard 3 years ago

      I don't know if you ever heard of Trader Joe's, we have it in California. It's a great store with fresh food, organic and nice wines all at really good prices. The founder of Trader Joe's is opening stores where he will sell food that is past the expiration date. The stores are going to be in the lower income areas so people can buy things like bread for .25 cents. Eggs of .10 cents, fresh fruits and vegetables for a fraction of what they charge at other stores. It is a great idea. Not only do we not contribute to more landfills but people on fixed incomes can buy a wide variety of foods they ordinarily cannot.

      One worry tho' is someone might claim illness from buying outdated food and sue--that will ruin it for the rest of us.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      GREAT info! I hate to waste food, so I have always gone by how it looks and smells. If it looks and smells okay and hasn't gone too long past the date, then I'll go with it. :-)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I am going to pin this to another one of my boards titled Do you know this? Perhaps it will gain more attention. People should really be better informed about this subject. Such a shame to waste perfectly good food especially when so many people go to bed hungry in our country and elsewhere. Sharing once again.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Kathryn Stratford, for reading, commenting, voting on, and sharing this article! Very glad if it was helpful to you.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      MG Singh, thank you for stopping in and inquiring how this problem might be solved in a positive way. As I stated in this article and in some of my comments above, insurance companies that provide liability coverage to businesses do not want to be responsible in the event someone would become ill from eating 'outdated' food -- that's the excuse they give. So rather than take that chance, the food is destroyed. A shame really, and like you, I think with some effort a compromise might be reached, but first people involved must be persuaded to make that effort . . . Thank you for stopping by!

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you dahoglund for reading and sharing your experience and thoughts on this important issue. Processed foods (boxed and canned) are usually good for a long time. I've used cake mixes that were over a year old and they were fine -- turned out well and no one got sick. I've used lots of foods well past the sell by and/or use by date as I've written in comments above, with no ill affects and good results. I learned growing up on a farm what to watch out for when it comes to food spoiling. Meat and meat products have the shortest life as a rule. They're only good refrigerated for 2-3 days max, so to preserve the longer it may be necessary to cook them and then freeze them to avoid having to throw then away.

      A shame so many stores and restaurants throw so much good food away when we have so many hungry people right here in this country who would be glad to have it.

      Thanks again for your comments!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is a very useful hub. I hate wasting food, and am very careful to use what I buy.

      Voted up, sharing, bookmarking for my personal use, and pinning.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day!

      ~ Kathryn

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Delores Monet, thank you for sharing your experience and your thoughts on this issue. It seems to me we could figure something out that would give reasonable protection to businesses who donate food that is past it's sell by date. After all, we sent people to the moon, so how hard can it be to resolve this issue right here on the planet?

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Alexadry, thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on this important issue. I frequently use eggs that are 6 or months past their use by date. Just 2 weeks ago I baked a chocolate cake from a mix and used eggs that were dated more than 6 months ago. Both my adult daughter and I had some of the batter (we can't help it, we love cake batter) and neither of us became ill, and the cake turned out great too!

      I have also used milk several days past the use by date. With milk it's easy to know when it's gone bad -- it gets sour and you can smell it, although lots of people actually like sour milk. Sour milk doesn't usually make anyone sick, and can be used in some recipes that call for milk with no ill affects, but if it starts to smell rotten, then it shouldn't be used.

      So many foods are good for a long, long time beyond the use by date and it's really a sin that so much food is wasted, thrown away, and poisoned in some cases, or locked away, so that hungry people can't get to it or use it.

      Very much appreciate your useful information about your personal experience on this issue.

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Heidithorne, thank you for commenting on this issue. Indeed it is difficult to make fresh produce last sometimes. One way is to prepare it so it can be frozen if it looks like you won't be able to use it before it goes bad. You can always make soups and chutneys from many vegetables and fruits.

      Lettuces are probably the most difficult to preserve, but if Dole can package lettuce that will last in prime condition for 8 or more days, then there has to be a way we ordinary people can do it too.

      One thing to realize is that most food is perfectly good long past it's sell-by date and even beyond it's use by date. Prepared foods containing meat are usually the fastest to spoil, so making foods where you can add the meat later when you actually plan to eat it is another idea to think about.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Au fait profile image
      Author

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Levertis Steele, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I agree it would have been nicer if the boxes of snacks would have been left in a nicer place, but that would have insinuated that the company intended for the poor people to have them, which would open up a whole new issue of liability if someone got hurt/sick from eating them.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Nell Rose, thank you for stopping by. Here dumpsters are often locked or bleach or other poison is poured over the food to make it useless to the poor and the hungry.

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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      bat115, thank you for stopping by. Agree with you!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Levertis Steele, thank you for commenting on this article and for sharing it!

      As I stated in this article, most businesses have liability insurance and the insurance companies don't want them making food available that has passed the sell by dates because the insurance companies don't want to be liable in the event someone gets sick from eating that food.

      There is of course little likelihood of sickness occurring, but you know how insurance companies are. We need to find a way that will work for everyone and provide this food that is usually perfectly good, to people who need it. Thanks again for caring.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Rebeccamealey, thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment! Wasting food when there are so many hungry people right here in our own country -- and Congress has recently voted to cut the Food Stamp (SNAP) program by 40 BILLION dollars -- is a sin.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Peggy W for tweeting and sharing this important article!

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Nice post. You have high lighted a malady. Why can't some organization intervene and give the food to poor and destitute ?

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      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Good advice. It used to be that stores would discount dented cans etc. There are still stores that sell surplus groceries and other things. I tend to buy quite a few of these products, but one should follow your advice and look for damage. At one time I was uncertain about buying such goods and called the County Agricultural Extension Service for advice.They had me talk to a "food scientist" who told me things to look for and also said that the state of Minnesota(where I lived at the time) m had high standards of food inspection and I could be confident in buying. voted up and sharing.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      The crazy thing about this is that one minute the food is okay to sell, the next minute the stuff is in the dumpster. One New Years Eve, a young man turned up at our party and started handing in artisan breads and bunches of flowers, all from the dumpster of a high end market. We were all delighted. Yet it all came from the garbage. Yet there are poor people out there who could eat this stuff. Panera donates tons of stuff to soup kitchens instead of throwing it out.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      A couple of years ago when I lived in Missouri, we found an Amish store in a small Amish town. Every thing was dirt cheap and we figured out only once we came home that all products were expired, but not just by months, but years! I asked people around there and they told me that these products were still OK and they ate them all the time. And if there was anything with mold or smelled fishy, we could always return it. Well, moral of the story is we ate yogurt expired 6 months ago, and many canned goods even expired 2 years ago, and all was still tasty and we never got sick! I still miss this store dearly, as it helped us and many others go through tough times. I still remember having my cart extra full of goods and paying something like $30 for food that lasted a month. I wished there were more stores like these!

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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      This is such a huge problem on so many levels! At our house, we want fresh produce, but some of it is sooooo perishable. I just cringe when hubby puts a pile of produce in the cart. I always worry that we'll be throwing out a bunch of it. :( Great informative hub!

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      Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

      I knew of a business that had a few hundred employees. It offered vending machines for their convenience. Whenever snacks expired, they were thrown in the trash. I suppose the venders did it. Some poor people often came on the site and raided the bins. The company permitted the people to raid the bins, but I do not understand why the trashers did not leave the boxes in a better place.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      This has been on the news recently in England too, its disgusting, many people on the program were seen going into the bins to retrieve the food as they were living on a small income, makes me so mad!

    • bat115 profile image

      Tim 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Good hub. Something everyone needs to read!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Food waste is so sad, thanks for an enlightening view on it.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

      Dates do cause much food waste. Some peddlers get expired produce from grocers and sell them in communities at reduced prices. These peddlers are usually elderly men.

      Since many people do not buy food after dates, some grocers reduce prices to get quick sales, but they seldom sell them all. The fruits and vegetables would be a gardener's delight for composting; and farm animals would have a ball with the cabbages, turnips, corn, apples, carrots, etc.

      Grocers could donate this food to feed the hungry especially at the community kitchens. I would think that they could get a tax write-off for it.

      Great hub! I will share.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Giving this a tweet and another share. People really should be informed about this important topic.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Shyron, for stopping by and sharing this article! We do need to shrink the amount of wasted food in this country. With so many hungry people even in this richest nation on earth, it's a cardinal sin to throw so much good food away. Now with the Food Stamp program being cut back even though hunger has not been eradicated, there will be even more hungry people who would appreciate this food if it weren't destroyed to avoid anyone benefiting from it.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Deborah-Diane for sharing this article, and for your kind praise. Hunger is a serious problem all over the world and even here in the U.S. We do indeed need to find a way go stop wasting so much good food when there are hungry people among us.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Remember the old saying, "waste not want not?" I will be sharing this again in case some of my followers missed it.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      I am sharing this information again. As the holidays approach, many people become more aware of the need to help the food banks. Of course, we should be doing it all year long. Perhaps this article will make people more aware of the amount of food that is simply wasted and some solutions can be found to aid in food distribution. You have written another powerful and helpful hub!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Paul Kuehn for reading and commenting on this hub, and for voting on it, and pinning and tweeting it!

      It is the same for many medicines. OTC meds lose their strength overtime and from my personal experience that can be a good thing. Mucinex for example, when it is fresh and the date is far in advance is too strong for me and I have talked to friends who say the same is true for them. After the recommended date has passed for a few weeks, even months, it isn't quite so strong and the effect it has is much better. One of my friends who is in his late 60s says Mucinex is so strong he can barely breath after taking it -- it dries him out so badly.

      I would consult with my doctor or pharmacist if prescription drugs were past their due dates. You can discuss OTC with pharmacists too. I'm not aware of any that become toxic after time, but I'm not a pharmacist or a medical practitioner, so I would hate for someone to take that chance not knowing if that could happen.

      The reason, as stated in this hub, why many businesses do not donate food to soup kitchens or food pantries is because of liability. If someone becomes ill as a result of eating that food the donor is liable for damages. Letting them off the hook completely is not a good solution either. Hopefully a good solution will be found. Insurance companies will raise the premiums for businesses they know are donating food to these programs that help the needy.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Au fait,

      This is a very interesting, useful, and well-researched hub that everyone should read. It's really shocking how much good food Americans waste. Thais waste food, too, but not nearly as much as Americans. I never really thought that foods were still good for some time after the expiration date. Is it the same for medicine? Americans also waste a lot of food when they go to restaurants. Why couldn't some of this untouched food be boxed up and donated to food pantries? Voted up and shared with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinned and Tweeted.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Cantuhearmescream for continuing to take an interest in this issue and for trying to get people involved in making changes. There really is no good excuse for so much food being wasted. I think it's odd that a world that can send people to the moon can't figure out a way to make sure everyone has food to eat.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      My brother just came up from West Virginia to visit last week. I brought up this hub and we spent more than an hour talking about this issue because of that. I'm sending it to FaceBook again since I'm here and I'll probably repeat regularly. Just maybe enough people or the right person will realize how wrong this is and something will change.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Peggy W for pinning this hub!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Cantuhearmescream, for taking this hub to heart and realizing how serious it is. I really think wasting food on such a huge scale is scandalous and unconscionable, especially when this world has so many hungry people in it. Thanks for the share, too.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Going to pin this informative hub to my Useful tips and ideas board.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Au fait,

      I couldn't agree with you more and that's why I shared this through every social media I know how... and I see many others have at well. I'm glad this struck a chord with people, but I'm almost equally disappointed that so many don't seem to care.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I AM sarkey, Bobby, so much more than you know. Thank you for stopping by and for your high praise. I've missed you. Hope all is well. xx

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Man of strength, for reading this hub, and for sharing your experience on this subject. I often use eggs 6 months after their due date has passed. So long as they look OK and I'm going to cook them anyway, I go ahead and use them. Been doing it for years with no harmful affects.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Patriot Quest, thank you for stopping in and sharing your thoughts on this subject!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Cantuhearmescream, Cat, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I'm glad you and several others are taking this issue seriously. It is a serious issue, because being so wasteful is next to being sinful in the worst way whether one believes in God or not. Sinful in the secular way . . . as well as the Godly way. With so many hungry people in this country and around the world there should be no major wasting of food such as my research uncovered.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      prairieprincess, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub! My information on use-by dates comes from WebMD, so I think it's about as dependable as one could find. I have always used things even when they were long past that date on the package unless I can see or smell something is wrong with them. Cake mixes are fine for a year or more.

      I've used eggs even 6 months past their date -- I know they've been well refrigerated and never allowed to stand out, and I plan to cook them. I wouldn't put eggs long past their due date in a cake mix for example, because I usually lick the mixing bowl and there's raw egg in the cake batter.

      Canned items can be good for literally years, as stated above. Frozen is good for a very long time too if care has been taken not to let the frozen items thaw or become freezer burnt from poor packaging.

      Glad this hub will be helpful to you! Thanks for coming by.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hello: You're a sarky little vixen, aren't you? I meant the real Diogenes used to do that in the Athens Safeway!

      You write great articles sweetie and I am glad you are getting all the attention from the faithful.

      Bob (Taking care) x

    • Man of Strength profile image

      Man of Strength 4 years ago from Orlando, Fl

      Hi, Au fait

      What a great hub. I worked at a major grocery chainin Florida. At the end of business, POUNDS of food would be thrown in the dumpster. Baked chicken, fried chicken, vegetables from the hot display window went to waste. Before I knew better, I'd throw away eggs and other foods on the expiration date. Now even if it's past the date, I give it a quick "smell test", If I haven't passed out then its getting consumed. This reminds me, I need to scramble my 2 days expired eggs.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      I read hubs concerning the homeless and poverty stricken on a regular basis, forgive me for being naïve but I don't understand? The only homeless I have ever witnessed, are bums, meaning they have mental, drug, etc. problems? We have 50 MILLION on food stamps? We have half that many on other welfare programs along with free housing? ANYONE except ME can get on welfare. Only reason I can't is because I made too much money in PAST years? .........anyway I don't buy it, As far as liability is concerned, one can blame the bleeding liberals for that, They are the party for the people who always end up HURTING the people. I'm sure some lawyer told the grocery stores to lock it up and ruin it! Free food is at most churches, and other organizations daily throughout America......................aint biting!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Au fait,

      I couldn't agree with you more and I've been talking about this to anyone who will listen, ever since I read it... and I'll keep talking... until I have to start screaming! :D

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you, X-Con, for reading and commenting on the hub! I agree that it's beyond shameful to throw away so much perfectly good food when there are hungry people who need it.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you Peggy W for tweeting and sharing this hub!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      relationshipc, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. The big concern businesses have regarding the donation of food is the liability involved in case someone gets sick from it. Given immunity from all responsibility to keep the food reasonably safe would possibly cause them to become so uncaring about what happens to the food that it might very well make someone sick, so the issue I suppose is to come up with a happy medium, whatever that might be.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Cantuhearmescream, thank you for reading, commenting, complimenting, and sharing this article. If anyone ever wondered what a sin is, wasting this much food is an excellent example. Considering how many hungry people we have in this country and all over the world, this is surly one of the most egregious sins anyone can commit. We need it to stop.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you mary615 for reading, commenting, voting on, sharing and pinning this hub! I'm glad you had your grandson read this article too. Everyone needs to know about the horrific waste of food we have in this country so that something can be done to stop it. With so many hungry people in the U.S. and all around the world I think it is travesty that so much food is thrown away and no one is allowed to benefit from it.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for this! I had always suspected that these dates were flexible, and had the arguments with my sister about whether or not we could keep things a bit past due date. Now, I can let her know that it is not always necessary to throw things out right on the date. :)

    • X-Con profile image

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      That was a good and informative hub! Such a shame that so much food is not only wasted but destroyed.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This hub is so educational and particularly in hard times people need to know this. Am sharing again and also tweeting.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I was just thinking about this today so it's weird that I ran across your article in my feed - or a good coincidence I suppose.

      There has to be some way for large stores to donate their almost expired food to shelters. There has to be, right?

      I don't know, the whole issue makes me sick.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Au fait,

      I knew there was "waste" going on, but never to this extent! I cannot believe how angered I am after reading this hub, but I thank you for writing it. This makes me sick... veterans who fought to keep us alive now have to fight to keep themselves alive? Starving children, struggling families! After leaving an abusive relationship with 2 little children, in between jobs and homes, I went to a local food pantry once a month for a few months. Most of what they give away are at or past their sell by dates. If it wouldn't have been for that food, we may not have eaten. Thank you for writing this and I'm spreading it everywhere I can! Absolutely awesome hub!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I have always been a frugal person (I like to call it thrifty). My Grandson and I have discussions all the time about this very thing. Thanks for all the good info. I had him read this Hub!

      When I was a food server, it always bothered me at night when we would close up, all the left over food went into the trash compactor! What a waste.

      I voted UP, shared, and Pinned.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you DeborahNeyens for reading and commenting on this hub, and for sharing new and useful information on this subject and sharing this hub on your Healthy Food Examiner FB page. I hope everyone will visit your page and check out all the great information you have there!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      Food waste is a huge problem and this is a great hub with good information. Did you know that September 21 will be the start of Food Waste Awareness Week? (I just heard that yesterday.) Anyway, I'm going to share this hub on my Healthy Food Examiner Facebook page. Thanks.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you for reading/commenting on this hub, PetCole17. Keep in mind that most of the canned goods in your pantry have sell-by dates and that's different from use-by dates. Most canned foods are good for months and even longer.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Lately I've noticed that the canned goods in my pantry seem to expire quicker than we can use them. I hesitate to put them into the trash and know that even if I donate them, they will likely be discarded once the expiration date has passed. Your article points out a lot of good information about this wasteful practice. Thanks for bringing this to light.

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      vespawoolf, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub! Agree that it is unconscionable and heinously wasteful to throw so much food away when there are hungry people in this country.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a sad commentary on American society. Of course it can't be morally right to throw away food the poor could benefit from. I appreciate all the tips for food storage and how to know if food can still be eaten. Something needs to change!

    • Au fait profile image
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      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you for stopping by Shyron. Most foods have expiration dates printed on them, but the food is often good for much longer.