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Diet and Nutrition 2023

Outdated food: é safe to eat?

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Outdated food: é safe to eat?
Outdated food: é safe to eat?

The shelf life corresponds to the period given by the manufacturer in which the food, under ideal storage conditions, is viable for consumption, that is, it does not present nutritional changes and does not favor the development of microorganisms, with no risk of disease.

Although some foods are considered safe for consumption even when out of date, with seasonings, pasta and rice, for example, others, even if they do not show changes in their texture, smell, color or flavor, can be hazardous to he alth. This is because some microorganisms present in food can proliferate without causing any noticeable change and interfering with the quality of the food, putting the person's he alth at risk.Therefore, the consumption of food beyond the expiration date is considered a public he alth problem, as food intake is often conditioned to visual and/or perceptual characteristics, resulting in diseases.

For food to be considered safe for consumption, including food that is within its expiration date, it is important that it is stored correctly according to the manufacturer's recommendation, which is usually described on the label. The lack of adequate storage favors the development of microorganisms that can cause diseases.

How to know if a food can be consumed

To consume food safely, it is important to pay attention to the expiration date indicated on the label, as well as its storage conditions and some characteristics that may be indicative of the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. Thus, the main characteristics to be observed are:

  1. Color: observe carefully if the color of the food is as expected or if it has changed. A good example is packaged meat, which, when it starts to rot, undergoes small changes in its color, starting to take on a greenish color;
  2. Smell: the second step to identify whether or not the food can be consumed is through its smell, which can indicate whether the food is sour, spoiled or rotten, for example. A great example is soup, which when it starts to rot it has a sour smell;
  3. Texture: the texture also helps to identify whether or not a food is good to be consumed, because if it gets altered or looks frilly, grainy or thick, this may indicate that the food is spoiled. A good example of this is milk cream, which when it spoils, it becomes curdled and its texture is no longer homogeneous;
  4. Taste: is the last characteristic to be evaluated, as it can put the person's he alth at risk.This trait is normally only evaluated when the other traits appear normal. In this case, it is advisable to taste a small amount of the food before consuming it in its entirety or using it for cooking.

Expiration dates are established by the manufacturer through several tests performed that evaluate the potential for microbial growth in the food under different storage conditions. It is important to pay attention to the expiration date of foods, because even if changes in the characteristics of foods are not identified, some microorganisms may have proliferated or produced toxins that can result in food poisoning. Know how to identify the symptoms of food poisoning.

Can I eat some food after the deadline?

Although the expiration date is an important indication for checking the quality of the food, some can be consumed even after the expiration date.This is due to the fact that their storage conditions are not so demanding and because they tolerate wide temperature variations.

Some of the foods that can be consumed after the deadline without endangering he alth are dry pasta and rice, flour, s alt, sugar, spices, water and frozen vegetables, for example. These foods can usually be eaten a few months after their expiration date, as long as there is no change in their color, smell, texture or taste. In addition, their packaging must also be sealed and stored in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Refrigerated foods such as meats, yogurts, milk, cream, condensed milk and curd, for example, are examples of products that should not be consumed after expiration and their characteristics must be evaluated even when within the deadline. In addition, medicines and supplements are also examples of exceptions that should only be used when they have expired, as they may pose a he alth hazard.

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