The sheer volume of food thrown away due to blind adherence to overestimated sell buy and best before dates is unimaginable. At the end of the day, these dates are guesses, just because a packaging company predicted your bread would go off in two weeks doesn’t mean it actually will. We have evolved to judge weather or not food is off- trust your senses!
- Mould- look for mould on the food product, if its got visible spots of blue/grey bacteria then its time to bin it. A few spots on a loaf of bread can be trimmed away and the rest of the bread is perfectly edible but do avoid meat and dairy products that have gone visibly mouldy.
- Texture Change- If your cheese has gone soft and slimy or your milk has gone lumpy, it has likely gone off. Soft fruits on the other hand are usually still fine to eat.
- Discolouration- Fruits and vegetables will often darken when exposed to the air, potatoes that have turned green are definitely one to avoid. Raw meats will also darken if left for too long e.g. mince will turn brownish: this doesn’t mean it has gone off however, when cooked it will look and taste exactly how you are used to. If however the discolouration is accompanied by a layer of slimy film its no longer edible.
- Smell- above all else, smell is the most reliable indicator of whether or not food is edible. Your nose uses the exact same receptors as your taste buds and so if it smells bad, it will taste bad; in general even if it just smells different from when you first bought it, the food should be binned and if there is a chemically rancid smell, its long gone.