Expiration Dates and What They Really Mean

If you’re like most people, you probably toss the milk out the second you wake up on the date of its expiration. However, when it comes to other items, such as salad dressing or Tylenol, you might not even realize that the stuff is even expired, using it multiple times before realizing that it hasn’t been good in months. What do expiration dates really mean and why do we notice them every time on certain items and rarely on others?


According to lead author of a 2012 study and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Lee Cantrell, medications with an expiration date 28-40 years ago are still 90 percent effective at fighting off illness. This means that last year’s expiration date on that bottle of Tylenol isn’t anything you need to worry about overly much.


Just this morning I was getting ready to throw out a package of unopened chicken that’s been sitting in my fridge for the past 24 hours because we haven’t eaten it yet. I planned on serving it tonight, but since it wasn’t frozen I was a little afraid until I realized that the USDA states that the expiration dates on meat are there for quality reasons, not safety reasons. That means that the chicken in my fridge with an expiration date of two days ago is still fine to eat, but it might not be the best quality chicken we’ve ever served.


Adhere to the expiration dates on your makeup. It might seem weird to think that your blush isn’t good and you’ve hardly used it, but honey, it’s full of bacteria. Your powder makeup shouldn’t stay in your makeup bag longer than two years. Your liquid makeup needs replacing at least every six months. Be sure to adhere to these rules.


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