Surely you’ve wondered how it is that your half and half expired 10 days ago, and yet here it is making your morning cup of coffee enjoyable with no sign of spoilage. Well, it turns out that expiration dates are kind of a load of crap.

Basically, the entire concept of expiration dates is a totally unregulated field. That’s why you’ll see “best by,” “use before,” “sell by” and “packaged on” dates on products instead of one unified dating system. In addition to that, the dates themselves aren’t all that accurate. They’re really more like manufacturer guesstimates of when something is likely to give a consumer diarrhea than a cold hard date to live by. Think of all the cottage cheese you’ve thrown away for nothing. Nothing!

Although this video recommends using your eyes, nose, and mouth to determine whether food has gone bad or not, that’s probably not the most surefire way to tell, so here is one additional bit of information from a person who took a food safety course one time (me). High protein, low-fat foods tend to spoil faster than those with higher fat contents. So your skim milk (which is gross. Why are you drinking that?) is going to go bad faster than your heavy cream.

That also means that food like beans can go bad pretty fast, and there’s an unfortunate in-between period when they don’t really smell off, and they don’t taste like total dreck, but can still give you diarrhea on the day of your friend’s funeral, it turns out. For food that you’ve already opened, a good rule of thumb is to throw it out after three or four days. Or better yet, freeze it, so that drunk future-you can put it in the microwave and eat it one night when your refrigerator is empty and you are starving.

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