Most of us place far too much faith in a product’s expiration date. It has become almost natural for American consumers to simply toss out their foodstuffs once they have gone a day or two past the official “sell by” date.

However, new information shows that people who blindly throw away their food a few days after an expiration date are only throwing away their hard earned cash.

According to the National Resource Defense Council, the dates that companies put on their food products do not indicate when that food has spoiled. The expiration date only indicates when a food has reached its highest degree of freshness. Many foods are extremely safe to eat after the expiration date, you just have to know how to tell.

There are many tips to help people determine whether or not their food is still good after the expiration dates. For example, if you are curious about the freshness of eggs, just fill a bowl with cold water and drop the eggs in the bowl.

The eggs that float are spoiled, but the eggs that sink are fresh. It is easy to tell when milk goes bad, since it starts to smell rancid and form lumps. Also, if you ever spot mold on bread or cheese, just throw it away.

There are tons of tips like these on the Internet to help consumers judge exactly when their foods have truly gone bad. The official expiration date is only a guide, the true judge of freshness is the consumer.

“As a homeless person who has had to go to free food give always to eat, I have been forced to eat a lot of expired food just to not starve. It becomes a game of food craps where your safety from a devastating case of food poisoning is just a throw of the dice. I find that these companies are actually motivated to put date on them that are as long as possible so they can sit on store shelves longer, not as short as possible to make you buy more. Sniffing and visually inspecting the food really is your only safeguard and it doesn’t always work and you find your self shitting florescent green or shooting out brown liquid from both ends for three days. She is right that there is a need for legal standards on dates but wrong about companies wanting to make the shelf life shorter, they are motivated to make it longer. Really what it comes down to is this conversation I had with this old guy I was talking to while he was eating food out of a garbage can. I asked him if he was worried about getting sick from eating out of the garbage and he replied, “Well, I’m I am a little more worried about starving to death today.” Words to live by.”

“When I was a teenager I used to work at a major super market. At the end of every night they had to dump any unsold food from the hot plate. They would end up throwing out pounds of perfectly good food, including around 30 or so rotisserie or fried chickens that were just cooked a few hours prior. They were not legally allowed to even give the food away to the homeless or a charity because supposedly they could get sued. I always thought that was ridiculous.”