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3.15.2012

EXPIRATION DATES

My son-in-law believes expiration dates on products, food especially, are a guideline not an absolute.  He has, much like an immunization is a small bit of the disease you are vaccinating against, created a tolerance for food that most of us would have long since thrown away.  There are two separate things; sell dates and expiration dates.  They probably are not one in the same, but close.  It depends on the product.  If it is a bacteria growing sort of food, then I'm out.  There is nothing worth the risk of illness if I think something is iffy.  Yesterday I made jello, which I really never do.  My pantry probably isn't the most stocked as most of what I use is fresh stuff.  I did though find several boxes of jello bought to make cranberry salad during the holidays.  Did you know Jell-O has an expiration date?  I found that out years ago when my Grandma June died and we cleaned out her pantry only to find some 40+ boxes of jello, most of which were expired.  I checked the five boxes I had, three orange and two cherry.  Why did I even have 5 boxes of jello if I never make jello!!  Two of the three orange boxes were expired well over a year.  What would technically happen if I consumed expired Jell-O?  Would it be like drinking milk 3 weeks past the sell date?  I didn't know, but since I really didn't LOVE Jell-O in a deep passionate way, I threw the expired boxes away.  I was quickly becoming my Grandma June!  My son-in-law would never have thrown those two boxes of jello away.  I have a container of liquid Chai tea mix with an expiration date of 3 days ago.  It is unopened.  My guess on using expired Chai tea is that it might become a bit stronger.  Will it hospitalize me, probably not.  I am highly lactose intolerant so I do not use milk.  If I have a hankering for cereal I turn to rice or coconut milk to oblige my urge.  My husband can drink milk, but rarely does except for the occasional bowl of frosted flakes leftover in the box from when the grand kids visited.  If we buy milk it is usually a quart or less.  It just expires long before it gets used.  Recently Doug wanted a bowl of cereal.  There was an unopened quart of milk in the frig.  I noted the expiration date was about 4 or 5 days earlier.  He opened it, smelled it and took a swig.  His conclusion was it smelled and tasted fine.  I warned him but to no avail.  He had a bowl of cereal doused in that 5 day old milk.  If he was a test case he would be in the predictable outcome category.  Digestively he had a reaction later in the day. While in the health food store the other day I noted they had a section of discounted merchandise.  I took a look thinking maybe it was just products they were ceasing to carry any longer.  It was not that at all.  Instead it was several shelves of OUTDATED food products and supplements.  Really, was I going to buy expired products even at a discount!!!  If that was the case, I would have used my own expired Jell-O!!  My ex-mother-in-law was notorious for having expired everything in her refrigerator.  If you decided to eat a sandwich at her house it was always imperative you checked the expiration date of any product involved in the making of your sandwich.  She usually had bits of moldy something or other in her refrigerator.  Leftovers are in a category of tentative expiration dates.  How long is too long for that leftover container of chili to sit in the frig?  3 days, a week or up to two weeks?  I would say a week is stretching it.  My son-in-law would say two weeks is more than ok.  Growing up my mom would stretch ingredients a tad past their life span.  Celery that was beyond limp, moldy cheese, leftovers of over a week.  I have seen my mom cut off a chunk of mold on cheese and continue to eat what is not moldy.  Vitamins, rubbing alcohol, Benadryl cream all have expiration dates.  If you have ever smelled very outdated vitamins you know why there is an expiration date on them.  A friend of mine had several bottles of expired vitamins.  She didn't know what to do with them, so she dumped them on her garden.  Ginormous tomatoes that year with growths on them!

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