Use By... Eat By,dates.Is it a scam?

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by BaldBaBoon, Jul 29, 2010.

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  1. Last week I had a good clear out of the cupboards and managed to find stuff that was out of date in the 80's let alone in this decade.

    A fair bit of stuff was only a year or so out of date though, and I have been using it up in various recipes with no apparent problems.

    It smells ok.

    It tastes ok.

    It looks ok.

    The girlfriend who unwittingly became the primary food taster is still up and about.

    Tonight in question I used up a Uncle Bens Cantoneese sauce with some chunky bits in it to give some kick to a cottage pie I was making.....consume date was 2 years ago. ( The food tasted as good as normal )

    Now, I understand that shellfish and fish even in tins is a bit iffy....but what about the rest of the stuff? it just a big bloody con to get us to buy more?
  2. The 'use-by' dates are based on the worst-case scenario. If you make, say, sausages, you use a recipe that if stored in the fridge for eg a fortnight will still be OK - you have them tested in a lab to check. Then you give them a ten-day limit to be on the absolute safe side, assuming that someone doesn't have their fridge cold enough, or doesn't cook the sausages through properly. It's an attempt to mong-proof themselves out of being prosecuted for poisoning their customers.

    There is also a publication called the Codex Alimentarius that contains advice on use-by dates. Frozen stuff is usually 3 months or possibly 6 for veg etc, there are also pretty standard dates for things like ice-cream and desserts. It's people being on the safe side as much as anything. There was some botulism case connected with John West Salmon about 35 years ago that nearly put them out of business. They think better safe than sorry.
  3. I remember a bloke on a US survivalist website a couple of years ago eating tinned stuff he'd put aside decades ago without any ill effects. I stress that the tins were pristine - no dents, rust, bulges etc.

    There was this bloke who ate the tinned chicken given as a wedding gift on his fiftieth anniversary:BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Husband eats 50-year-old chicken

    Growing up in the 70s / 80s nothing had sell by or use by dates. I tend to use my common sense - if it doesn't try to escape when I reach for it in the fridge or larder, then it's probably ok.

    NB - I'm not a scientist or owt, eat stuff at your own risk and don't come running to me if you get the shits or die.
  4. Completely agree, if it doesn't smell bad, taste like crap then the chances are it won't harm you. I used to have an agreement with a local garage that at midnight (when food that was perfectly edible for the previous 24 hours apparently became botulism filled filth) where they gave me it for nothing and I gave it to people living on the streets. As far as I'm aware none of them died from it.
  5. msr

    msr LE

    Yes it is. Milk is the worst one for this - I happily drink milk 2 weeks passed its use by date. What's the worst that can happen? Yoghurt?

    Fish, on the other hand, I would not risk.
  6. I watched a programme on telly once in which a chap used the original bottling techniques used to preserve rations for Napoleon's army. He stuck some cooked chicken in a jar of brine, pasteurised it and sealed it then left it in a cupboard for 10 years and ate from it with no ill effects.

    Said it tasted awful, mind.
  7. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    tinned/dried stuff you're usually ok, as long as it's been stored properly. there was a ray mears thing on the telly where he was with an evadee pilot from the vietnam war where they made dinner with some canned stuff from the 70s that seemed to be ok.

    saying that, I bought a quiche from Tesco's the other week that was already wearing a fur coat on the last day of it's 'eat by' - all was not lost though, as I bought anthony beevor's 'D-Day' book with the voucher they sent me by way of an apology.
  8. I seem to remember that in one of the Italian ports a ship was sunk in 1943, at the dockside, several months later, food being at a premium, the cargo of tinned milk was raised and used to no ill effect.

    I would also suggest, you have a nose , and common sense, use them both; if it smells off don't eat it, although I would add that when you open vac packs gije them about 10 mins for the air to clear, as they do have a tendancy to smell a bit off for the firrst few mins.
  9. Mags, you'd eat your leg, no matter how out of date that was......

    Just don't eat me, or I will chin you.
  10. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    well, your bf would be a bit upset for openers I would presume.

    and thats even before I get personal about the state of your holiest of holies... ;)
  11. Sell By dates have robbed us of our ability to decide for ourselves whether or not something is OK to eat. Use your instincts, and if in doubt, make sure it's well cooked.
  12. They put use by dates on salt and vinegar both of which are used as preservatives!

    There are a couple of ground rules though:

    Chicken - BY use by date
    Fish - by use by date
    seafood - by use by date

    anything else by nose
  13. Are you taking the mickey, or do you keep your milk in the freezer? Remind me to take my tea black if I ever visit you.
  14. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    In Modeno in Italy they have been useing the same Malt since the 15 century to make Balsamic vinegar, but the bottle of Balsamic vinegar on my shelf is dated 2015, even Sarsons have been useing the same crap since the 1700s and it still has a sell by date, they even put sell by dates on vintage wine now FFS, back in the 60s we regularly had WW2 corned beef in COMPO and it did no harm, just use a bit of common sence.

    Dont even get me started on Cheese , smoked meat and sauseges,and smoked/dried fish, they have a sell by date that makes a mockery out of presurvation methods that have worked for thousands of years, but now of course most "smoked" products are realy only coloured and flavoured hence the need for sell by dates. The food industry cannot be trusted and for a fast buck are quite happy to con the customers with chemically inhanced shit