Talk of the Expiration

Slate recently ran a fabulous article on the caution contained in food date labels. How ‘expiration dates’ aren’t that.

On Monday, NPR’s Talk of the Nation had Nadia Arumugam, the article’s author, on to discuss the topic. It’s interesting stuff, and exciting to hear it discussed on such a grand stage. that's a lot of cents!Although I did find it interesting that neither the topic nor the word ‘waste’ were written or spoken.

If you’re short on time, both contain a message familiar to readers here–expiration dates are overly cautious and we should trust our senses before a number printed on the package.

The radio segment has a fascinating, terrible anecdote (that inexplicably didn’t make the Slate piece) about why New York City has its own expiration dates for milk (news to me). At around the 3 minute mark, we learn of the practice of dumping about-to-expire milk on poorer areas of the city.

Another interesting detail, for me, was the lack of legal clout of most date labels:

Only last year, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner reversed the conviction of a wily entrepreneur who’d relabeled 1.6 million bottles of Henri’s salad dressing with a new “Best when purchased by” date. Posner decided that the prosecutor had unjustly condemned the dressing as rancid, rotten, and harmful, when in fact there was no evidence to suggest that the mature product posed a safety threat.

It’s great to see this topic getting so much attention, as blindly heeding date labels leads to so much unnecessary waste. And I take it as a sign that people are confused/interested in the topic. Arumugam’s story is the most e-mailed on Slate as I’m writing this on Tuesday night.

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