What do you do when leftovers have been hanging out in your fridge for a while? Do you open it up, take a look, maybe give it a sniff, trying to decide if it's still okay to eat? What about cartons of milk, canned goods, and condiments? Do you go by its sell-by/use-by/best-before date, or do you use your senses for those as well?
It turns out you may be better off assessing the food in your fridge on your own. According to this article, Take Back the Trash, in the New York Times, these dates aren't federally regulated, but are determined by the manufacturers themselves, with no transparency into their methods. And those dates cause Americans to thrown away a lot of perfectly good food each year.
I have to admit, I often go on the purging rampages Bruce Feiler describes at the beginning of the article. I get frustrated trying to find a spot for leftovers, and start tossing stuff. For the most part, we do a decent job of packing up leftovers in a way that makes them convenient to freeze or grab for lunch the next day, and minimize how much is thrown away, but stuff definitely slips through the cracks.
What do you think of the dates stamped on your food? How do you decide if your food is off? What do you do to avoid having to throw away food?