So, of course, I Googled expiration dates. Found this:
Use-by dates are contributing to millions of pounds of wasted food each year.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic says Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean.
Most consumers mistakenly believe that expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume, when these dates actually aren’t related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness.
Food dating emerged in the 1970s, prompted by consumer demand as Americans produced less of their own food but still demanded information about how it was made. The dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in the sense of becoming inedible. For un-refrigerated foods, there may be no difference in taste or quality, and expired foods won’t necessarily make people sick.
It's those doggone Gen-Xers and Gen-Zers again. When they occasionally pause and look up from their iPhones, they feel compelled to check the dates stamped on food products. In the old days, if something was not good to eat, it smelled bad or it grew fuzzy blue mold or it shriveled up or it got slimy.
I am compelled, however, to relate (with much shame) a true story. Background information: I do not consider myself a chef or a cook or anything other than somebody who has done her share of roasting, frying, steaming and boiling. I don’t enjoy cooking. I don’t hate the chore, but I’d usually rather be doing something else – taking a nap, maybe, or having my appendix removed or shoveling up the dog poop in the back yard.
While my daughters were growing up, I cooked all the meals for the family because I saw it as my role (remember, I grew up in the suburbs in the 1950s) and because if I didn’t cook, we would have starved. We usually ate dinners together as a family.
I learned to make casseroles that didn’t generate exaggerated groans or complaints. I learned to make no-brainer meals that consisted of dishes that could all be placed in the oven together and cooked at the same temperature for the same amount of time.
I figured out how to hide disagreeable vegetables in attractive concoctions and to make meals that included at least one attractive item for each opinionated eater. I cooked double meals and froze them or served them again the next night with no apologies. I occasionally did some baking, mostly birthday cakes and Christmas cookies.
In the mid 1990s, I was still occasionally making cookies from a recipe written in pencil on a well-worn dog-eared 3- by-5 card that had been folded and faded and spattered with grease and chocolate.
But the cookies were not the same. They were flat; tasteless; droopy-looking; dismal.
I checked the expiration date on my can of baking powder.
1964!!!! The year I got married. Three years before my first child was born. More than 30 years after the date it supposedly started to lose its freshness.
While eating a sad-looking cookie, I Googled baking powder:
Baking powder usually has a shelf life of about 9 to 12 months!!! (Exclamation points are mine.) According to Michigan State University Extension, . . . baking powder loses its potency after its use-by date, usually 18 to 24 months after manufacture.
The only danger of using expired baking soda or baking powder is its inability to properly rise, resulting in baked goods that are flat and dense.
So. That expired bottle of French’s Classic mustard (which I wrote about in last week’s blog) is NOT baking powder. It’s still good, even though it has been a year and a half since it peaked.
I like to choose my battles, however. After my grandson tossed it in the trash and I retrieved it, I changed my mind. Bought a “fresh” bottle of mustard.
One container of boring yellow mustard is not worth an argument.