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Food storage dates

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How do I store it?


What do those numbers on it mean?


How long will it last sealed up? Opened?


Where do I store it?


What's with the "Use By", "Best Before", and "Expiration Date"?


What do I do if I suspect insects near it?


What about molds?



I went searching for links to do a permanent "sticky" post here in the kitchen, where it will cover both normal, day-to-day food storage, and helpful guidelines for long-term storage. If you have links to these things, feel free to post them, too.


This first is VERY helpful information compiled and (I believe) edited by Alan T. Hagan, who has been a member here since 12/13/05, though he visits and posts infrequently. He's done an excellent job, and I would suggest you read it all... wink





More later as I figure out the lesser-better ones...





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  • 3 months later...

And here he is! {laughing}


The Survival Center link is to an older version of the FAQ. The latest version is available at my web site Prudent Food Storage FAQ Version 4.0 It needs updating now as well, but I don't know when I'll have the time to get to it.


Walton Feed also has some great info pages related to food storage.

Walton Feed Self-Reliance Area It's worth your time to cruise through them.


Another good area to check out is the Utah State University Coopeative Extension publications page notably the Food & Nutrition area.

Utah State University Cooperative Extension Publications.


None of this stuff is rocket science. It's all rather simple really it's mostly a matter of just getting some basic instructions then actually doing it.





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bow I agree! I'm embarrassed that I haven't updated this thread yet... life and a naughty computer got in the way. busted



Thanks for the links, especially for your site... I'd forgotten where it was!




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  • 4 weeks later...

These are exactly what I need. Thanks for posting these. They are very helpful.

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  • 2 months later...

As I see it you're making this much too complicated. The only thing I find necessary is put the date I bought the can on the label somewhere where it will be easy to see it when I open the cabinet. That's the date I go by in deciding when to use that food (presuming it's not moving very fast in the rotation). I try not to let fruits and vegetables go past two years from the date on the label, meats I may allow to go as long as five for stuff like Spam and such. If I start getting a lot of stuff going past their dates I reconsider how much of those foods we need to be keeping since they're not getting used very fast.


Now if I were buying canned goods from a discount store or a really good sale that might lead me to wonder if the store is clearing out old stock I'll start looking for the best used by or expiration dates so that I don't unwittingly stock a lot of already old food to grow still older waiting their turns in the rotation.


In my opinion the functional food storage system is one that requires the least amount of time spent fiddling with it while still getting the necessary tasks such as rotation done. Simplify, simplify, simplify so long as the stuff that must get done is done.





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Thanks for those tips, Alan.


Per your advice, I'll label the cans with the bought date. I am cutting cardboard pieces to sandwich between cans with different bought dates, so I can see the separation at a glance. My cupboard is small so I can't see everything real well. The cardboard should help.


That'll do! thanks







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I have an embarrasment of riches in the form of expired milk-based baby formula. This is premium stuff for the most part, some organic even, but the baby I picked it up for has been taken to soy. (Soy rant deleted. You're welcome.) I can't sell the stuff because I was given it for free on the understanding I would pass it on the same way. The shelter won't take it because it's out of date. Okay, so does anyone need a case or two of nonsoy formula? Expired, but apparently well-cared for? Or do I need to serve it to my chickens?

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A sampling off the top:

Ultra Bright Beginnings 2 use by 2008 MA10

Ultra Bright Beginnings with iron use by 2007 DE19

Similac Organic use by 1 March 2008

Similac with iron use by 1 Feb 2009 (not a typo)

Nestle Good Start with iron Supreme use by 29 Sept 2007

Nestle Good Start with Iron Supreme use by 26 Feb 2008

Similac Advance Singles use by 1 June 2008


Stored on grocery store shelves, and since then in air conditioned house.

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These are all less than a year. If they've been stored in an air conditioned house they should still be fine.


I'm not sure what you mean by "shelter" so if you're talking about your local battered women's shelter I'd call area food banks. This stuff is just too expensive and hard to come by to allow it to go to waste. I'd stress to them that it was all stored in an air conditioned environment.


My youngest is now three and a half, but we'll be keeping at least one can of lactose-free cows milk formula in the cabinets right on.





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I bet they can't take the chance of giving expired baby formula to someone. If the baby got sick, they could get sued.


If you really want to make sure it gets a good home, go to a food bank when they have open hours, and wait outside and offer it to the first person you see with an infant.

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  • 5 weeks later...

This week I used a yellow cake mix that expired in 2005. I did not bake as usual, but used as the topping on a Pumpkin Crunch, so it did not need to rise, but it tasted fine, and we are all still living. I did a dry taste test before using. It passed the smell and taste test, so I used it.

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Expiration dates are a safety margin.


Use your senses to know if food is still good afer "expired dates".


Although, with infant formula, what does it taste like when good?

I am sure the breast milk of the mother is probably good, if she is eating right...


Hope this helps,


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  • 1 year later...

While rearranging/cleaning in the basement, I found a 2-year-old can of Sprite soda. I cleaned the outside well, and poured it out to drink.


No loss of fizz, no loss of flavor... it was great! ;)


Of course, this was in our cool basement, not somewhere with huge temperature changes, but I thought I'd "report" in case anyone wonders about it.


Someday :sEm_blush:




Just maybe... :Blushing:




Anybody out there????










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Cat, when they reopened the old Cuban base, they found 30-year-old soda in glass bottles. By all accounts, it was great. I bet it was. The old stuff had real sugar and more carbonation than is used now.

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  • 10 months later...

Proof that companies put fake "expiration" dates on their foods...


Spam is on sale for 2/$4.00 this week at one of our local stores. When I got it home it has a 2014 expiration date on it!!!! :o


It has ALWAYS had a year's expiration date on it. Now suddenly it lasts 3 YEARS????



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Proof that companies put fake "expiration" dates on their foods...


Spam is on sale for 2/$4.00 this week at one of our local stores. When I got it home it has a 2014 expiration date on it!!!! :o


It has ALWAYS had a year's expiration date on it. Now suddenly it lasts 3 YEARS????



I bet it would last longer then THAT! :sHa_sarcasticlol:

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Hmmm, perhaps it's not the expiration date that's fake......if it lasts three years, mebbe it's the contents???? Just sayin'.... ;)


MtRider [thanks for the bump of this thread. I'm trying to redo my "favorites" AGAIN for yet a different computer. I wanted Alan H's sites just the other day but hadn't gotten around to googling them.]

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  • 7 years later...

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