Expiration dates


I tend to mock expiration dates.  As Peg Bundy memorably said on the old “Married . . . With Children”: “It doesn’t say ‘Use before this date.’  It says: ‘Best if used before this date.’”



Amen to that.  I am dubious of expiration dates, because I recall things sitting in the cupboard and the fridge for literally decades back when I was a kid.  And we still used them.  And I’m still here, aren’t I?  (Maybe not in the best shape, but still.)



I am invariably amused by my work friends Apollonia and Cathleen, and their religious dread of expiration dates.  I can’t even give them aspirin without their checking the expiration date. What happens to aspirin after the expiration date?  Maybe it gets a little less effective.  I don’t think it turns into something poisonous.



Now just look at this BBC story: an 87-year old man in Germany kept a can of lard sent from America in 1948, “just in case.”  He opened it recently, and had it tested for safety, and – guess what?  It was fine.  (A little gritty and tasteless, he said, but my god it’s lard, of course it’s gritty and tasteless.  Did I ever tell you my grandma Boitano used to eat lard on toast?  But I digress.)



I never really felt bad about keeping things after their expiration dates.  Now, I really don’t feel bad about it.  (Well, maybe dairy products.  I don’t want to be racked up by a container of sour cream.)  But: cereal.  Canned goods.  That’s why they’re canned, right?  To keep for a long time.  Preserves.  Baking ingredients.  (I have chocolate chips that have been in the house for a very long time.  You know what?  Throw them in some oatmeal cookie dough, and they’ll be just fine.)



Fat goes rancid over time, naturally.  But evidently, if it’s packaged correctly, it doesn’t.



Here’s to living forever, with lard.

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