Throwing Away Expired Edible Items


I am wondering if it is okay to throw away edible items that have past their expiration date? What if they have no tell tale signs of being bad such as bad smell, sight, taste? To be cautious, my husband likes me to toss things when their expiration dates have past. This includes foods, beverages, medicines, and anything else taken internally. I feel wasteful sometimes, but do it anyways. What do you do in your family? Thanks! :slight_smile:



If it looks like it’s edible, smells like it’s edible, tastes like it’s edible, and stays down like something edible, it’s edible.:smiley:

Prepare to be amazed:
I pretty much ignore expiration dates completely, except to try to use the oldest items first. In 2005 I helped reorganize my family’s outdoor freezer, and found meat from 1996. We ate it that week. I’ve eaten eggs that were 6 months past their expiration date- the whites were rather runny but they tasted just like an egg ought to. Then I made a quiche with the rest of the eggs and shared it with my coworkers, who thought it was delicious. My family converged on our lakehouse about once a month two summers ago, and my brother found at 4th of July a pack of unopened shredded cheddar cheese sitting on the table in the un-ACed house that had been there since Memorial Day weekend. He discretely showed the pack to me, noticing that the cheese still looked perfectly good. We carefully scratched off the expiration date, put the pack in the freezer, and ate it during our following visit in August.

I have never had food poisoning in my entire life.

All that being said, I don’t eat food that is quite obviously rotten. Mold gets cut off, but not if the colony is extensive. Rancid oil and butter are two of the worst. I also respect the fact that many people cannot stomach expired food emotionally, even if it is perfectly fine. This includes my husband. I find the best solution in these cases to be managing food quantities and inventories so that food never reaches the expiration date in the first place.


My husband is the same way. I am selective about what I throw away, and what I’ll fudge on. Obviously, if you can tell that something is horrible, you aren’t going to eat it, but like, the other night, my sister and I wanted some milk with a cake she had gotten for us as a special treat. It was a day or so past the expiration date, but it didn’t smell or taste bad, so we drank it and we were fine. You know how it is, you can DEFINITELY tell when the milk is no good!

Overall, I think it’s OK to throw things away that have expired, though. I mean, what are you going to do with them? Your family isn’t going to eat/drink them and you can’t donate things that have expired (And who would want to? That’s so lame and tacky!), so what else are you going to do with it? Don’t get me wrong, I always feel the twinge of guilt, and lament being wasteful, but sometimes you just can’t help it. It would be different if you were purposely wasteful (don’t know why anyone would be, but you never know…). All you can do is try to plan better for the next go-round…


You never cease to amaze me “vluvski.” :smiley:

At heart, I am in your group too. However, my husband is part of the “better safe than sorry group.” So I technically fall in the first poll option. :o


I pitch it. There is no way I am risking all seven of us to get some nasty throw up all over because we ate old food thing. Can you even IMAGINE the laundry involved?

It’s probably harmless if it’s just a couple of days - but I’m taking NO chances. :nope:


Yes, the laundry costs would be far greater than the cost of a pitched gallon of milk or a pound of bad meat! Not to mention the poor sick kidos! :frowning: Their well being is something money can’t buy! :slight_smile:


We also go a bit past expiration dates. If anything is questionable, DH will usually volunteer to eat it.

This does lead to a good question though…

Does SOUR cream really need an expiration date???:smiley:


Many of the “expiration” dates on food items are “sell by” dates. If the date is past, and the item has not been opened, I’d consider it safe. If it’s opened, a sniff and a taste (if the sniff test is passed) will tell you if it’s OK.


Yep - I toss it. In my opinion, I’d be negligent if one of my kids got sick because something went rancid. But that is me and only how I see things. I am super paranoid.

I am relentless on left overs and lunch meat. Left over cannot last more than 2 days and lunch meat has 3 days tops in my house. But for $3.00, it’s not worth my perceived risk.


I remember my mom always saying (read this with an italian accent):

“The label only says it’s “best” before that date. It’s still good. Eat it.”

But in my family, ever since '04 when my wife got Salmonella poisoning, then complications, then major surgery, we heed expiration dates. Everything get’s thrown out.

Although, I did eat some 2 week past peanut butter this morning. (I never shoulda bought that big Costco tub of peanut butter!!)


I voted to throw out everything past it’s expiration date (not necessarily the “best before” date, which is different).

Here’s why: not every harmful effect from eating something ‘old’ shows up in ways that you can feel or see.

You may be harming your body and not even know it and that especially applies to any kind of medicine or supplement which should most definitely go after the date on the label.

The best ways to avoid having to throw things out are to: buy wisely, use in a timely manner and share/give away things before they become outdated.

The worst way is to possibly harm your body trying not to be wasteful.


Yeah, I would have to agree with some of you moms in the bunch. I don’t have kids yet, but thinking about the milk my sister and I drank the other day like I mentioned before, it was fine for us, but there was NO WAY I would have given any of it to her 19 month old!!!

I ditch leftovers and lunchmeat pretty quickly too - I don’t fudge on those! I don’t do expired medicine either - some of it just means it’s lost/losing its potency, but others would be harmful, so I wouldn’t play with that!


It depends on the item. I am much more cautious about “use by” and expiry dates than my hubby. I don’t like to take chances. Who knows what’s happening to the food as it’s turning bad, before it’s visibly rotten or stinky?

Plus, I have heard different rules for different foods. For hard cheeses that have a spot of mold, it’s ok to cut it off (generously) and eat the rest. But one spot of mold on a soft cheese and the whole thing gets tossed.

But hubby is definitely of the “see, smell, taste” test variety. One day he was eating some pepperoni and asked if I wanted some. I said “sure”. Well, he hands me this green pepperoni!!! He didn’t even notice it had turned color, lol. He was ok but if I had eaten it, who knows?



For me, it depends on what it is. If it is something that is likely to make you sick (like eggs, chicken, mayonnaise, etc.) then I would definitely throw it out. Something like crackers, mustard, lemon juice, spices, etc. I will use long past the expiration date.


Here’s why: not every harmful effect from eating something ‘old’ shows up in ways that you can feel or see.

The best ways to avoid having to throw things out are to: buy wisely, use in a timely manner and share/give away things before they become outdated.

I totally agree with the second part of the quote. However, I’ve never seen any evidence that eating old food is harmful to your body in any way. In fact, my resistance to food poisoning is evidence to the contrary.

I made the comment that I have never had food poisoning not to suggest I might reconsider if I ever did experience it, but to suggest that perhaps my consumption of old, expired food that passed the look, sniff, taste test has built up antibodies over time. My husband and I have eaten the same exact thing (never at home, from my cooking), and my husband ends up violently stomach sick while I am completely fine.

Regarding salmonella and other food-borne illnesses, most of these are not because the food has expired, but because the food has not been stored or handled properly. These bacteria do not spontaneously appear on expired food, but have to have been present or deposited on the item at some point.

  1. I never touch cheeses or deli meats with my hands or a utensil that has touched anything else.
  2. If I don’t plan to use raw meat, poultry, or seafood right away, I freeze it in an airtight container, and don’t defrost it until I am about to use it.
  3. Meat, poultry, seafood gets cut on a glass or plastic, NEVER wood cutting board
  4. Meat, poultry, seafood is always cooked thoroughly to make sure it reaches the temperature necessary to kill bacteria.
  5. In most cases it is counterproductive to use a sponge to clean up messes. This simply spreads bacteria around instead of killing it.
  6. Keep food preparation involving raw products isolated to one area of the kitchen, near the sink and on a surface that can be washed instead of mopped up with a sponge.
  7. Excessive use of anti-bacterial products leads to humans with insufficient antibodies who end up being more susceptible to illness.

You all may think I’m crazy, but I spent a week at a Food and Poultry Science Summer Camp and won an award at the end for my knowledge. I know what I’m talking about.

I see expiration dates as an issue of personal preference rather than health.


Well, he hands me this green pepperoni!!! He didn’t even notice it had turned color, lol. He was ok but if I had eaten it, who knows?

This is kind of my point. People who habitually eat expired food are less likely to get food poisoning than people who don’t. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend suddenly starting to eat questionable consumables if you’ve always thrown things out.

In that sense, I guess expiration dates are somewhat of a health issue.


I agree with you, I smell it and maybe taste it. If it looks okay and smells okay, then it is. One exception is pasteurized dairy products, because they often go bad without leaving a trace. We use raw dairy, which never spoils, it just sours. If you happen to drink some raw milk which is slightly sour, you don’t have to worry. Just make yogurt. :slight_smile: But with pasteurized milk, you have no choice but to throw it out. Some things are rancid while still on the grocery store shelf, such as vegetable oils, shelled nuts and flour. So I don’t buy them. Or I try not to, in the case of certain nuts, especially walnuts and flax, because shelling them is a laborious process. I freeze my flax seeds, but I’m not sure if that really helps. Vegetable oils are one rancid food you can definitely live without. Use olive oil, coconut oil, lard, bacon fat, butter, anything but vegetable oil. For flour, get a grain mill and grind your own each time you use it in a recipe; then it won’t go rancid.


I rely on expiration dates when the food item is one that still looks the same once it’s gone off. My sense of smell is impaired, so I can’t rely on the sniff/taste method of telling when something is too far past its prime.

Mudgie-in-training and freelance sparkle/coffee grinds sprinkler


Unless it is a product containing dairy/eggs, the sniff/smell test is good for me… (if it’s on the edge the dog gets a treat… if squirrel droppings or raw rabbit kill don’t make her barf…:wink: )

I’ll agree with “Vluvski” with:
That most bugs are passed due to “cross-contamination”… handling raw meat, then another food item. Do your meat prep, then other meal prep separately. Wash/Sanitize your utensils and your hands between.

As far as cutting boards… I, my mother, G, GG, and GGG Mother all use/used WOOD cutting boards. A properly seasoned & cleaned cutting board has never been the cause of illness in our homes.

Glass cutting boards KILL knives. They’ll take the edge off the finest steel, and you can’t cut through anything.
Plastic cutting boards at home are a no-no. They’ll save the edge on your knives, but those “micro-cuts” in their surface can harbor bacteria, plus I don’t like nylon shavings in my food. Plastic boards are fine for the commercial sector… they have the 10billion degree dishwasher/sanitizer equipment.

IMO a good Oak or Maple cutting board that’s been seasoned with “Food Grade” oil, and sanitized with a bleach wash from time to time is fine.


I voted “give it a second chance”… However, I only do it with things which tend to pass the “sniff-taste” test, like (weirdly enough) milk and yogurt. It is really unnatural how they stay fresh a week after the expiry date - makes me think what sort of white liquid they put in the box… Milk, as I know it from childhood, has the ability to turn sour… :shrug:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit