Safety of foods essay

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Sell-by Dates

Sell-by dates are a concept that many people struggle with. People tend to think that once a product's sell by date has past, it cannot longer be used. The consumption of different foods, their manufacture and sell-by dates, and the time frame during which the food can be consumed safely are the main topics of this essay. The sell-by numbers are not always exact. Food's scent and appearance can be used to determine whether it is safe to consume. However, avoid consuming anything about which you are unsure. There are foods that you can consume past the expiration dates and consumers will tend not to buy it simply because they will assume it's spoilt. This will lead to tons of food wasted with many people dying of hunger and food stores making heavy losses (Gunders 12). However, at times, if you assume the expiry dates, you are likely to suffer severe food poisoning.

Best before Date, Sell-by Date, Use by Date, Pack Date, Born on Date

Best before date refers to the time in which the product is at its best quality while the sell-by date tells the retailer when to take the item off the shelf. The use-by date is the last date in which the product can be safely used. Pack date is found on packed or canned foods and shows when the commodity was packed. Born on date is the date when the product was manufactured. There are certain factors that manufacturers consider when determining the quality dates. They include the temperature of the food while it is being distributed, the length of the time the distribution will take, the traits of the food, the mode of packaging, and the duration in which the food will be at its best quality. Some foods are added certain ingredients to preserve their qualities, for example, sausages and packaged beef among others. Consumers are therefore advised to check the quality of the product before using it to determine if there are any signs of spoilage (Gunders 10). Opening dating is mostly found on highly perishable goods such as dairy products while coded dates are letters and numbers found on shelf-stable commodities like cans and food boxes.

Food Spoilage and Microorganisms

After the expiry date passes, food is likely to develop microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, molds, which will multiply over time and cause the food to rot. Conditions that may favor the thriving of these microorganisms include moisture and warm temperatures. However, it is impossible for viruses to grow in food. Once the microorganisms have invaded the food; it deteriorates and develops an unpleasant smell and taste. Food is likely to spoil much faster if it is not stored properly or handled well (Wansink 19). If foods are not handled well before and after the due date, bacteria are more likely to multiply. Mishandling of food is when defrosting is done improperly, or the person with the food does not practice proper sanitation. When such food is consumed, a person is likely to suffer from food poisoning with symptoms such as a headache, severe diarrhea, fever, stomachache, and nausea.

Foods That Can Be Consumed Past Expiration Dates

Nevertheless, there are certain foods that one can safely eat past the expiration dates and others that get better with time. Foods such as cereal and pasta if stored in a cool, dry place can last longer than the sell by date. Bread is likely to get stale and develop mold but it can still be eaten safely. Stale bread is used in many restaurants to make French toast and croutons. If chocolate is stored properly, it can last longer than the sell by date. Old chocolate forms a white film called chocolate bloom; however, it can still be consumed. Ingesting expired cheese is safe provided you remove the mold. Potato chips may last long past their expiration dates if they are well sealed in airtight packets while condiments such as jam, mayo, ketchup, and salad dressing can be consumed even after their expiry dates so long as they have not been unsealed. Freezing foods is the most affordable and convenient way to prolong the shelf life of food. Frozen pizza, vegetables, proteins, pastries, and yogurt are likely to last long while refrigerated. This method is convenient for people with busy schedules who do not have time to go to the market and shop after work. Fermented products like wine and beers get better with time and improve their quality and taste.


In conclusion, it is important that consumers are enlightened on the common misconceptions concerning the quality dates of food. During my research, I have discovered that plenty of foods are still safe even after their sell-by dates. The most vital thing to do when consuming expired food is to use common sense in determining whether the food is safe or not because the smell and appearance of food change when it goes bad (Wansink 22). Overall, the Food Policy Act has done a good job in ensuring that consumers all over the world get food that is safe thus reducing cases of food poisoning.

Work cited

Gunders, Dana. "Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill." Natural Resources Defense Council (2012): 1-26.

Wansink, Brian, and Alan O. Wright. "“Best if used by…” How freshness dating influences food acceptance." Journal of Food Science 71.4 (2006): S354-S357.

June 19, 2023

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