No one wants to serve spoiled food to their families.
Conversely, consumers don’t want to throw food away unnecessarily – but we certainly do. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Americans toss out the equivalent of US$162 billion in food every year, at the retail and consumer levels. Plenty of that food is discarded while still safe to eat.
Part of these losses are due to consumers being confused about the “use-by” and “best before” dates on food packaging. Most U.S. consumers report checking the date before purchasing or consuming a product, even though we don’t seem to have a very good sense of what the dates are telling us. “Sell by,” “best if used by,” “use by” – they all mean different things.
Contrary to popular impression, the current system of food product dating isn’t really designed to help us figure out when something from the fridge has passed the line from edible to inedible.
For now, food companies are not required to use a uniform system to determine which type of date to list on their food product, how to determine the date to list or even if they need to list a date on their product at all.
The Food Date Labeling Act of 2016, now before Congress, aims to improve the situation by clearly distinguishing between foods that may be past their peak but still ok to eat and foods that are unsafe to consume.
Aside from the labeling issues, how are these dates even generated? Food producers, particularly small-scale companies just entering the food business, often have a difficult time knowing what dates to put on their items. But manufacturers have a few ways – both art and science – to figure out how long their foods will be safe to eat.
One study estimated 20 percent of food wasted in U.K. households is due to misinterpretation of date labels. Extending the same estimate to the U.S., the average household of four is losing $275-455 per year on needlessly trashed food.
Out of a mistaken concern for food safety, 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the “sell by” date – which isn’t really about product safety at all. “Sell by” dates are actually meant to let stores know how to rotate their stock.
A survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute in 2011 found that among their actions to keep food safe, 37 percent of consumers reported discarding food “every time” it’s past the “use by” date – even though the date only denotes “peak quality” as determined by the manufacturer.
The most we can get from the dates currently listed on food products is a general idea of how long that particular item has been in the marketplace. They don’t tell consumers when the product shifts from being safe to not safe.
Here’s how producers come up with those dates in the first place.
Figuring out when food’s gone foul
A lot of factors determine the usable life of a food product, both in terms of safety and quality. What generally helps foods last longer? Lower moisture content, higher acidity, higher sugar or salt content. Producers can also heat-treat or irradiate foods, use other processing methods or add preservatives such as benzoates to help products maintain their safety and freshness longer.
But no matter the ingredients, additives or treatments, no food lasts forever. Companies need to determine the safe shelf life of a product.
Larger food companies may conduct microbial challenge studies on food products. Researchers add a pathogenic (one that could make people sick) microorganism that’s a concern for that specific product.
For example, they could add Listeria moncytogenes to refrigerated packaged deli meats. This bacterium causes listeriosis, a serious infection of particular concern for pregnant women, older adults and young children.
The researchers then store the contaminated food in conditions it’s likely to experience in transportation, in storage, at the store, and in consumers’ homes. They’re thinking about temperature, rough handling and so on.
Every harmful microorganism has a different infective dose, or amount of that organism that would make people sick. After various lengths of storage time, the researchers test the product to determine at what point the level of microorganisms present would likely be too high for safety.
Based on the shelf life determined in a challenge study, the company can then label the product with a “use by” date that would ensure people would consume the product long before it’s no longer safe.
Companies usually set the date at least several days earlier than product testing indicated the product will no longer be safe. But there’s no standard for the length of this “safety margin”, it’s set at the manufacturer’s discretion.
Another option for food companies is to use mathematical modeling tools that have been developed based on the results of numerous earlier challenge studies. The company can enter information such as the specific type of product, moisture content and acidity level, and expected storage temperatures into a “calculator.” Out comes an estimate of the length of time the product should still be safe under those conditions.
Companies may also perform what’s called a static test. They store their product for an extended period of time under typical conditions the product may face in transport, in storage, at the store, and in consumer homes. This time they don’t add any additional microorganisms.
They just sample the product periodically to check it for safety and quality, including physical, chemical, microbiological, and sensory (taste and smell) changes. When the company has established the longest possible time the product could be stored for safety and quality, they will label the product with a date that is quite a bit earlier to be sure it’s consumed long before it is no longer safe or of the best quality.
Companies may also store the product in special storage chambers which control the temperature, oxygen concentration, and other factors to speed up its deterioration so the estimated shelf life can be determined more quickly (called accelerated testing). Based on the conditions used for testing, the company would then calculate the actual shelf life based on formulas using the estimated shelf life from the rapid testing.
Smaller companies may list a date on their product based on the length of shelf life they have estimated their competitors are using, or they may use reference materials or ask food safety experts for advice on the date to list on their product.
Even the best dates are only guidelines
Consumers themselves hold a big part of food safety in their own hands. They need to handle food safely after they purchase it, including storing foods under sanitary conditions and at the proper temperature. For instance, don’t allow food that should be refrigerated to be above 40℉ for more than two hours.
If a product has a use-by date on the package, consumers should follow that date to determine when to use or freeze it. If it has a “sell-by” or no date on the package, consumers should follow storage time recommendations for foods kept in the refrigerator or freezer and cupboard.
And use your common sense. If something has visible mold, off odors, the can is bulging or other similar signs, this spoilage could indicate the presence of dangerous microorganisms. In such cases, use the “If in doubt, throw it out” rule. Even something that looks and smells normal can potentially be unsafe to eat, no matter what the label says.
Londa Nwadike, Assistant Professor of Food Safety, Extension Food Safety Specialist at University of Missouri, Kansas State University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
A quick note from our founder-
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In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
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To begin, I apologize for the dark nature of today's email.
However I promise what you'll discover today will be completely worth it.
Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
...suffocating tissue, restricting blood flow, damaging joints and infecting your healthy cells.
Shockingly, that nightmare is a reality for most:
64% of women and 74% of men carry too much body fat according to the National Institutes of Health.
It's choking their organs, assaulting their metabolism and sucking their energy dry.
But here's the worst part:
For most, this bodyfat has become "calorie-resistant":
It's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
This zombie fat is essentially... "dead tissue".
That's important for those who have 10, 25 or 50 or more pounds to lose...
AND for those who aren't technically overweight, but have what's called "pocket obesity"...
...unsightly patches of fat that cling to specific places, like:
just above your hips, lower belly, where your butt and legs meet... and even arms, neck and face.
However, there's good news:
Obesity researchers have now discovered a "metabolic jumper cable":
It jolts dead bodyfat back to life.
This allows your metabolism to burn it as calories and re-energize your entire body.
First though, here's the #1 reason why bodyfat becomes calorie-resistant:
It lacks blood flow. This has 3 effects:
- Not enough oxygen or nutrients reach fat cells, so they become unresponsive..
- Released fat can't be sent to other tissues to be burned, so fat cells suck it back in...
- 3) Metabolic hormones carrying the "burn calories" message don't reach the fat cell...
All this means one thing:
Your body can't transform into energy, the 135,000+ of calories the average person stores as fat!
You become a metabolic zombie: NO energy to think. NO energy to move. NO energy to motivate.
Update: calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
The discovery of this "metabolic jumper cable" can now reverse this process:
- It wakes up un-responsive bodyfat with a powerful calorie-burning hormonal jolt....
- It pops open fat cells, sucks out the fat, sending it off before its yanked back in...
- It shuttles fat to your brain, heart, lungs, kidneys - even your bones - to be burned as energy.
Not only do those layers of "zombie fat" start coming off, but your entire body just works better.
Plus, as your whole body burns more calories, those patches of pocket obesity whittle away.
This "metabolic jumper cable" isn't any exercise, machine or pill.
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive.
It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know.
And on this next page, you'll find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
PS - Studies show that not only can healthy levels of this powerful calorie-burning hormone devour bodyfat and fortify soft muscle, but it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat.
This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
P.S. Make sure you check out the next page to get to know the 10 simple moves that will bring vitality back into your life!
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
Fluffy biscuits, crusty baguettes, flaky croissants… even a simple slice of toast topped with melted butter can taste like heaven.
And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
So, what is the truth about bread and wheat?
- Is it the perfect poison… or an essential daily food?
- Is “gluten-free” bread better for you than regular bread?
- And can you still eat bread… while maintaining a lean body and optimal health?
The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
Secret #1: Enjoy real food. Don’t fall for the lie that you have to deprive yourself to lose weight.
Secret #2: stop eating out. You will automatically eat less without even noticing.
Then start detoxing your body with tasty, nourishing smoothies that are just as easy on your wallet as they are easy to make.
Because a single day of enjoying Liz’ smoothies demonstrated the radical power of her superfood-packed red smoothies to make me feel incredibly good.
Now prepare yourself for one of the biggest weight loss secrets there is. A secret that, when you use it properly, can transform your body and your health.
You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works.
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
“So… what’s going on with me? Why am I losing weight but not going hungry?”
Liz paused, then dropped the bombshell.
Your body is designed to burn fat. You just have to let it.
“What? I thought we were designed to store fat?!?” We were Skyping and I was practically shouting. Then I heard Liz say…
What good is a fat reserve if you can’t burn it?
Liz continued: “You’re drinking smoothies packed with phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that pull toxins out of you like a tractor beam. Allowing your body to burn those toxin-filled fat stores… and releasing tremendous amounts of stored energy.”
So that’s why I’m losing weight without going hungry.
Watch Liz’ free presentation. It’s packed with revolutionary weight loss information—information that works. Because it’s based on how nature.
Click the button only if you want to wear smaller clothes, breathe easier, move more freely and just plain feel better.
- Which calories help you lose weight…and which ones help you gain it…
- The “diet” foods…some of them vegetables…that lead to weight gain and diabetes…
- The “low-fat” foods that can dramatically increase your risk of cancer.
- And the superfoods that rescue your body from this assault by detoxing you…
Revitalizing your metabolism so you can Shed pounds as well as toxins, renew your body and reset your internal clock by up to 7 years.
Because until now, the Red Smoothie Detox Factor has been available only to Liz’ private clients. But now that she’s perfected it to work for almost everyone, almost every time, Liz is sharing it with rest of us so we can feel better and look better.
Get Red Smoothie Detox Factor before the price goes back up.
Because Liz offers a ridiculously good guarantee. You have 60 days to decide you love the Red Smoothie Detox Factor. If you don’t love it—for any reason, or even no reason at all —Liz will refund your money. 100%. No questions asked.
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.