What do you do with the products in your home that are expired? Although many products have expiration dates, they are not regularly regulated and not all the states require them. The period of a product’s best use depends on how it’s been stored and handled.
This is what some dates on products mean:
“Sell by” signifies when products should be pulled from the shelf, but stores can stock products past this date because it is legal. There are times when stores lower the price of these goods.
“Best if used by” or “use by” means that the product is at its best quality. Pass this date it may lose in flavor, texture, or appearance, but may still be safe.
“Expires on” or “EXP” signifies the last date a product should be used. However, there are some exceptions.
There are products that instead of expiration date carry coded dates, referring to packing or manufacture dates. These products use a 3-digit number and these closed dates mean the manufacturer may not want you to readily know.
These are the main sorts of products to keep in mind:
Companies say their toothpastes are good for use 12 – 18 months after the expiration date. This may lead to some loss in fluoride stability, ingredients may separate out or crystallize, and flavors may fade out. Toothpastes that are beyond their expiration date will not harm you. Also, there are other companies that advise throwing away toothpaste after the date. But this happens because it would increase their sales.
Most sunscreens can be used from 3-5 years after their manufacture. Usually they carry an expiration date or a coded date. The sunscreens’ potency can be reduced by heat and humidity. Store your sunscreens in a cool, dry place.
Only some baby foods and poultry need to have dates, which are required by federal regulations. But, the labeling of other foods depends on the laws in each state. Often, foods past their dates are still safe to be consumed, but if they’ve been handled and stored in a proper way.
For example, milk can stay fresh up to a week after its sell-by date; eggs can last three to five weeks at home. Keep the eggs on the fridge shelf, not in the door, because it is not that cold there. Fresh meat and poultry should be used within a couple of days of buying.
Foods that are not properly handled can go bad, even long before any of these dates.
Expiration dates assure that drugs are powerful and safe. However, this doesn’t mean that the medication is safe afterward. Drugs, in most cases are stable for a longer period, but manufacturers don’t want to test them and see how long they will really because longer expiration dates would decrease sales.
It is true that drugs begin to break down after the bottles are opened and when exposed to heat, humidity, light, and temperature fluctuations. Always store your drugs in a cool, dry, dark place, not in the bathroom, car or pocket for extended periods.
This is what you should NOT use past their dates:
Drugs that can break down relatively quickly are Insulin, nitroglycerin, EpiPens, and liquid antibiotics. Because there’s no good evidence that these drugs are dangerous after their expiration dates, you need to throw away drugs that are discolored, develop a strong smell, or have turned powdery. Liquid medications need to be stored in the fridge and are less stable.
Condoms are products that either have an expiration date and should not be used after that, or a manufacture date, after which they are good for up to 5 years. Condoms that are past their date are more likely to break. Keep them in a cool and dry place, instead in a wallet. Don’t use them if they are sticky or dry or if the wrapper is damaged.
Infant formulas and baby food
Infant formulas and baby food should be purchased and used before their “use-by” dates. After this date the nutrient levels and quality are reduced.