How Helpful Are Expiration Dates

Im sure I’m not the only one who has gone to reach into the fridge only to find that my favorite snack is expired.



Expiration dates are found on basically anything. Dairy, canned goods, beverages, medications and even cosmetics. Personally I’ve been told that certain things are okay if used passed the expiration date. For example, using a mascara that expired last week is certainly not going to kill you.

The null hypothesis of this experiment is that items are not harmful if eaten past the expiration date. And the alternative hypothesis is that items are harmful if eaten past the expiration date.

After doing lots of research on the topic I found that in some cases expiration dates are not as useful as they may seem. Most expiration dates are just used as a timeline for the freshness of food. For example, if a loaf of bread expires on January 10th, on January 13th it will still be edible, it may just not be as fresh as it was prior to the expiration date.  A lot of stores also use “sell by” and “made on” dates to indicate freshness as well. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic claims that a majority of people, about 90%, dispose of food they believe is not edible because of the date on the package. With people being so uneducated about what expiration dates on food really mean, this leads to massive amounts of food being wasted every year, month and day.

Here are some helpful tips to help you decide whether something is fresh the next time you reach into the refrigerator:

Milk-Can usually last about two days longer than the use by date

Butter & Eggs-Can most times be used a few weeks after



Not only do we worry about who expired our food may be, but also other household items such as medications. The FDA did a study on expiration dates in relation to medications. Unlike food, expired prescriptions and over-the counter drugs seem to be more hazardous. As time passes these drugs can become weaker and maybe even grow bacteria. As a result they will not work or work as effectively to cure what you have. It is advised that no one use medications if they are past the expiration date.

In conclusion, it is hard to say how accurate expiration dates can be, and therefore neither the null nor alternative hypothesis can be accepted. It is also important to take into account confounding variables when it comes to both food and medication, for example proper storage. As a way to be safe when it comes to your food it would be smart to always carefully look at your food and smell it before you eat it to check if it is spoiled! And when it comes to medication, try to steer clear of expired ones!

1 thought on “How Helpful Are Expiration Dates

  1. Jaier Vicente Avecillas

    That is very interesting, Because I have been taought if it is past the expiration date its not good anymore. But if the product can last however many days lets use milk as for an example, Lets say it expires December 1st 2016, How come they don’t put December 3rd 2016 if it is still good for the next two days?

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