Survival Medicine Hour: Expiration Dates, Face Masks, More

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N95-Surgical-Mask

N95 mask

This episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, with your hosts, Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, discusses the significance, or sometimes, the lack of significance of expiration dates when it comes to medicines in pills and tablets. Also, face masks as a medical supply, all you need to know about this important piece of medical protection. Also, some tips on medical storage of drugs.

Antibiotics

expiration dates

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/27/survival-medicine-hour-expiration-dates-masks-and-med-storage

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

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joe and amy alton

Expiration Dates Explained

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When dealing with with food storage, we always check expiration dates and try to get the furthest expiration date possible.  But product dates can get confusing, as various descriptions appear in different types of food. Difference between “Best By,”  “Sell by,” “Use by” or just plain “Expiration Date” Here’s a handy infographic from Kitchen Sanity (www.kitchensanity.com) that helps sort it out: For more information on expiration dates, check out these articles:  Is Expired Food Safe to Eat? Is Expired Bottled […]

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Expiration Dates on Food Storage- Know When to Throw

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Expiration dates on food storage - Know When to Throw | PreparednessMama

Are you wasting food because of confusing dates? I love to get a good deal on the usual supplies I keep in my pantry. Mayo, mustard, ketchup, peanut butter – sometimes cake mixes and nuts. You can usually get a good price at the discount stores, but you have to pay close attention to the […]

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Can You Eat Foods Past Their Expiration Date?

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Canned Food

The following are codes or dates that you can expect to find on certain food products, along with a brief explanation provided by the USDA.

Types of Dates:

  • A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires
  • A “Best if Used By (or before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date
  • “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer (USDA, 2015)

Some 20 states require dating of food while others have no specific laws. The USDA does not specifically require dating on foods with the exception of baby foods/formula.

“Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates.

Is Dating Required By Federal Law?

“Except for infant formula, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations” (USDA, 2015).

Baby food, more specifically baby formula should not be consumed past the “use by” date.

Therefore, the question is can you eat food past the dates stamped on a food product. Well some you can and some you cannot, how’s that for specificity. It is obvious some fresh foods cannot be eaten if they have been lounging in the refrigerator for several weeks.

On the other hand, the dates on the packaging are recommendations, but are not necessarily chiseled in stone, and as stated earlier they are not food safety dates. Use your nose and eyes as well as the dates on the packaging when it comes to fresh products or packaged products that require refrigeration.

Fresh meats will of course spoil after a couple days left in temperatures above freezing and the higher the temperature the faster the meats or other fresh products will begin to decompose. Cooked meats can be stored up to four days in refrigeration.

Eggs for example, are edible for up to five weeks after purchase if purchased before the use by date and stored in your refrigerator. Keep fresh eggs as close to the back of the refrigerator as possible. Most refrigerators are cooler in the back furthest from the door.

Test Your Eggs

A bacterium creates gases as it breeds and grows and too much bacteria in an egg will cause it to float (become buoyant) because of the gases. Draw a bowl of tap water and place the egg (s) in the water. If any float do not eat them obviously.

Some Recommendations for Storage

  • Fresh chicken should not be consumed if it has been thawed in the refrigerator for longer than two days
  • Beef, pork, and lamb can be stored thawed in the refrigerator up to five days and still be considered safe to eat
  • Ground fresh chicken and beef is good for two days thawed and under refrigeration
  • Ground fresh pork or turkey two days under refrigeration
  • Cured products such as ham purchased from a grocery store is up to five days

Certain cured or dried products can have an extended shelf life. However, much depends on the curing process and the level of expertise that went into the process. Check any dried or cured products for evidence of deterioration, mold, bad smell, or taste.

Caution:

Processed fresh foods/meats such as deli sandwich meat, hot dogs, and sausages if left unfrozen past the use by date can encourage the growth of the bacteria listeria, which causes the infection listeriosis.

Canned Goods

Highly acidic foods such as tomatoes are generally of good quality up to 18 months. This does not mean you cannot eat the product after 18 months, but you can expect some texture and flavor deterioration after this point. Low acidic foods such as green beans are considered stable for five years or longer.

Any canned product that shows swelling or bulging should be discarded. Swelling can mean a bacterium is growing in the can and this could cause sickness or worse if consumed. Glass canning jars can burst if a bacterium begins to grow.

Where you store your canned products can make a difference, so hot areas like attics or garages can reduce the stability of canned products. Fifty to 70° F is the ideal storage temperature for canned products. If stored in this temperature range the shelf life can be six years or more.

In most cases, you can tell if fresh meat is spoiled by the smell and color of the product. Fruits and vegetables will show obvious signs of spoilage as well.

Foods like pasta, white rice, and most hard grain products with the exception of brown rice is somewhere around 12 years plus and even longer if stored at a constant 70° F or slightly lower. Brown rice is shelf stable for up to six months, and can be stored up to 12 months under refrigeration and up to 18 months in the freezer.

The reduced shelf life of brown rice is due to the oils that will oxidize and go rancid. Weevils will infest any grain products so package to prevent infestation.

Sugar, salt, and honey are considered shelf stable indefinably as long as stored properly.

Flour is shelf stable for 5 years plus if stored in a sealed container. Flour can last longer if stored in an oxygen free environment however.

Frozen foods with the exception of frozen meats can be frozen for years. Meats will begin to lose flavor and texture, and there will be some deterioration after a certain period. Much depends on the packing method before freezing however.

Grounds meats are considered stable between two and four months in the freezer and this includes processed lunch meats. Steaks and whole roasts according to foodsafety.gov are good for six months up to a year in the freezer.

Vacuum sealing products will help to extend the shelf life of many frozen foods and certain other fresh products when stored in the refrigerator. Vacuum seal hard and soft cheeses, for example, to extend the shelf life while under refrigeration.

Foodsafety.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html

USDA. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/fsis-content/internet/main/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating

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How Long Does Home Canned Food Last?

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How Long Does Home Canned Food Last?Is this safe to eat?

That thought crossed my mind as I grabbed one of the remaining jars of last year’s tomatoes off the pantry shelf to use for dinner this week. 

I know the deal with store-bought food and their expiration dates, but I wasn’t quite sure about home canned foods. How long does home canned food last?

So, I did some research for us and here’s what I discovered:

According to the National Center for Home Preservation

Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.

Does that mean you need to junk your jars’ contents starting month 13?

No, not necessarily. Just like store-bought foods, your properly stored, home canned foods don’t automatically go bad on the 365th day. What it means is that after a year, natural chemical changes can occur which can alter the taste, texture and/or nutritional value of the food. 

After the one year mark (and honestly, it’s not a bad idea to do it before then, too!), you should inspect the canned food before you eat it.

Here are some signs your home canned food has spoiled:

  • The jar’s lid is not completely sealed.
  • There are dried food streaks on the outside of the jar that originate from the top.
  • There’s mold in the jar and/or on the inside of the lid.
  • The contents smell off.
  • The food has changed color.
  • The brine or syrup in the jar is opaque or muddy.
  • The contents are bubbly.
  • The food spurts out of the jar when you open it. 

The bottom line:

It’s best to eat all your home canned goodies before the one year mark, but know that there’s a good chance they will be safe longer than their first year.

And remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

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