Don’t throw away edible food: 7 questions about best before dates – Health

Do you have to throw away food that has passed its best before date? Are fast-selling products reliable? Explanation of the course of freshness.

Why do packaged foods need a label with an expiration date? What can go wrong?

Professor Frank Devlieghere of the Department of Food Safety and Food Quality at Ghent University: ‘Foods cannot be kept indefinitely. Sooner or later they get bad. This can be done in 4 ways. In the short or long term, micro-organisms such as bacteria develop in and on the food, which spoil it. Changes also occur in the enzymes and thus spoilage: certain proteins react to the oxygen around them and give, among other things, a discoloration or taste change. Furthermore, there can also be chemical spoilage, such as oxidation, which creates a bad smell and taste. Finally, there is also the so-called physicochemical spoilage, in which the structure of the food product degrades. Depending on the type of food, the preservation treatment it has or has not undergone and the method of storage, one type of spoilage will occur earlier than another and the shelf life will be shorter or longer.’

Professor Frank Devlieghere of the Department of Food Safety and Food Quality at Ghent University: ‘Foods cannot be kept indefinitely. Sooner or later they get bad. This can be done in 4 ways. In the short or long term, micro-organisms such as bacteria develop in and on the food, which spoil it. Changes also occur in the enzymes and thus spoilage: certain proteins react to the oxygen around them and give, among other things, a discoloration or taste change. Furthermore, there can also be chemical spoilage, such as oxidation, which creates a bad smell and taste. Finally, there is also the so-called physicochemical spoilage, in which the structure of the food product degrades. Depending on the type of food, the preservation treatment it has or has not undergone and the method of storage, one type of spoilage will occur earlier than another and the shelf life will be shorter or longer.’Devlieghere : ‘The ‘Use by’ products (TGT) are usually microbially perishable and are almost always kept cool. Examples are fresh meat and fresh fish, charcuterie, salads and pizzas. If the use-by date has been exceeded, the manufacturer can no longer guarantee the safety of the product. The ‘Best before’ date (best before) or minimum best before date, which you find on less perishable products such as pasta, cookies, chocolate and breakfast cereals, gives an indication of the storage time. Once that date has passed, the product is still safe but may no longer be ideal for the senses. The taste may have flattened or the color has changed.’ Devlieghere: ‘No. There is no requirement for certain products to indicate a minimum best-before date, such as bulk fruits and vegetables, sugar, salt, vinegar and alcohol. With unprocessed vegetables or fruit, you can simply see or smell whether they are still usable. The other products have an almost unlimited shelf life if they are stored in a dry environment.’ Devlieghere: ‘On the basis of tests and simulations in the lab, manufacturers themselves determine the shelf life of their new products. They usually deduct a time margin from that. Foods with a use-by date, in particular, are regularly checked on the basis of samples from supermarkets.’ Devlieghere : ‘With use-by date products, you definitely have to comply with the best before date. If this limit is exceeded, there is a chance that certain microorganisms have grown into too large quantities. They can make you sick. An infection with the listeria bacteria, for example, can be dangerous or even fatal for sensitive groups such as young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system. In the best case scenario, you will be left with a mild food poisoning that disappears on its own after a while, with symptoms such as diarrhoea, some fever or vomiting. Foods whose minimum best-before date has been exceeded can usually still be safely consumed. The taste may leave something to be desired, or they may have become a bit harsher or visually unappealing. Always check that there is no mold on it, and that the packaging is not dented or torn. In that case, you better throw them away completely. Also important to know: if you become ill after consuming a food whose use-by date has been exceeded, you cannot hold the producer liable for the damage suffered.’ Devlieghere : ‘Yogurt is a special case. It is a best before date product that must nevertheless be kept cool to avoid gas formation. Precisely because of this cooling, it also has a longer shelf life. If you have left your jar of yogurt neatly in the refrigerator all this time, you run no risk. The yogurt may have become more acidic or pungent, or some gas may have formed and you hear a pop when you tear the lid off. In principle, none of this can do any harm, unless you see that mold is also growing. If you didn’t store the jar properly and it was on the table, for example, then it’s better to throw it away.’ Devlieghere : ‘That’s possible, provided you put them in the freezer immediately after returning home and thaw them correctly before eating them. . It is best to do this in the microwave or after you have put them in the refrigerator first. Do not let the products thaw on the table or on the windowsill. The temperatures there are too high and the bacteria multiply very quickly.’By Caroline De Ruyck

See also  The Pandemic Brings Physical And Mental Health Problems

.

Leave a Comment