Thursday, July 18, 2013

British Food Is Not Long-lived

I live on a road that sees a lot of big trucks.  Er, lorries.  One morning I tied back the bedroom curtains to find a truck parked outside our house with a huge ad on the side for a campaign called Love Food, Hate Waste. Can't help but get behind that, because I can't stand wasting anything, especially food.

I think I found part of the problem, though:
Shortly after taking these pictures (clockwise: ketchup, tomato sauce/passata, milk), I found my favorite of all: a 300-gram jar of jam that insists it must all be eaten within three days of opening.  Are you kidding me?  I've never used a whole bottle of ketchup in 8 weeks, tomato sauce in one week (it's a big bottle), or milk in three days.  An entire jar of jam in three days?  Forget it.  These estimates are way too low...if people are really paying attention to them and tossing 4-days-opened milk or 9-weeks-opened ketchup then that really is a lot of needless waste.

The funny thing is that even though I've generally just used sniff and eyeball tests or general common sense in the past, and am cynical about these labels, they are still getting to me and I find myself more paranoid about food safety than I was before.  I haven't tossed anything that didn't really deserve it yet, but have considered it more than ever before.

In the US & Germany I don't recall these instructions on packaging, but am I mis-remembering?  I only remember sell-by and best-before dates, neither of which is an instruction to use it all up by then. Are these legit guidelines and I've been somehow lucky not to spend most of my life hurling from eating old food?


  1. Consider the source*, but you know that the manufacturer's use-by dates are just more marketing, right? The ketchup one is especially egregious, given how much vinegar is in there. And that jam thing is downright offensive. No way are you using that in three days, unless you operate a pre-school.

    Source: me, probably your food-safety opposite number. If it hasn't grown tentacles or a furry pelt, I'll still try it.

    1. Marketing that could be causing hella food waste. :/

  2. I also assume that in the USA we use way more preservatives than in Germany/Europe. Buy white bread in the USA and you will be surprised how long it lasts.

  3. I think food in the US lasts just much longer. In Brazil or Germany, I didn't drink milk after it was opened for 4 days or more. In the US, it is good after 1 week of being opened. I find it a bit weird... but well.. I'm still adjusting.

  4. I'm available if you need help finishing that jam in three days.

  5. Also, I had the same experience as Joana with milk when I lived in NY. It would go bad on or before the expiration date. I'm not sure if it was the milk or if my fridge was warm.


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