Expiration Dates Are Bogus — Here's The Best Way To Tell If A Food's Gone Bad

Flickr/Juhan Sonin

Expiration dates are a scam.

The "sell by" dates on food products aren't a reliable means of telling whether a food is safe to eat, according to the National Resource Defense Council.

Instead, expiration dates merely indicate when a food will reach its limits for something called "optimal quality," which is based only on a rough estimate.

Fortunately, determining whether a food has gone bad is fairly straightforward and requires just a small amount of know-how.

Read on to find out if you should eat it or toss it.

Bread: It's moldy — even if the mold is just on one piece.

If you spot mold on one slice of bread, it's not safe to eat another slice — even if there's no visible mold on the rest of the loaf. Toss it.

Because bread is porous, mold can spread easily throughout the loaf, so while a piece might look safe to eat, it could contain tiny mold spores.

If a bread has become hard and dry but has no mold, it can probably still be used as bread crumbs or croutons, since mold needs moisture to grow.

Eggs: They float.
Eggs: They float.
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If an egg is bad, it floats in fresh, cold water. If an egg is good, it sinks.

You may have dismissed this tip as nonsense, but there's some solid science behind it, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

While egg shells seem solid, they're actually slightly porous. As an egg ages, a sac of air begins to form inside around the inside of the shell. The older it is, the more air becomes trapped inside. Once so much air is inside the egg that it floats, chances are it's gone bad. (Of course, an old egg can still be OK to eat, but better safe than sorry!) Fresh eggs, on the other hand, will sink to the bottom of a bowl of water.

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