Former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch has found a use for products past their “sell by” date. He’s opening a bargain market near Boston early next year that will serve expired food, since the dates stamped on many goods often don’t indicate that they’ve actually rotted. They simply suggest the food will taste differently. Meanwhile, thanks to these date codes, people often throw out perfectly edible products—in fact, 40 percent of food is disposed of every year in the U.S.

According to the BBC, here are some things you can eat long after their “best by” date, and why:

Tortilla chips aren’t going to make you sick after a month, says Gunders, although they might start tasting stale. Putting them in an oven with oil will re-crisp them again, while storing in a sealed container extends their life by keeping moisture out. Gunders says yogurt can last beyond six weeks and she often scrapes off the mould. “I eat yogurt months past its date, I haven’t ever had a problem.”

Chocolate can last a long time, she adds, but it often develops a white coating, known as the “bloom”, when it’s exposed to the air. This happens when some of the crystalline fat melts and rises to the top. It’s not mould, she says, and it’s fine to eat.

People throw out eggs much earlier than they need to, says Gunders – they can last 3-5 weeks. But keep them at a temperature below 5C (41F), says Ted Labuza, a professor of food science at the University of Minnesota, because that helps prevent potential growth of Salmonella enteritidis.

Milk will smell or taste bad long before it makes you sick, says Labuza. Don’t let the container sit out at room temperature because microbes in the air will spoil the milk – close it up quickly and return it to the refrigerator, which should be set at around 2C (36F) to help prolong its life.

Rauch hopes to put food on the table at super low prices during a time when a lot of people are finding healthy products unaffordable.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig