Best By (insert date): Easy Ways to Know if Produce is Expired

Dr. Angela Seabright
Koraima Guillen

| 3 min read

guide to "best by" dates
Let’s be honest, we all can admit of at least once eating a food that had an expired date. Whether it was the barbecue chips in the back of your car or the apple hiding in the pantry we figured it was safe to eat.
But just because something has passed it’s “best by” date does not necessarily mean it has gone bad. On the other hand, there are some telltale signs that certain fruits and vegetables have passed their prime. Sure mold and rotting are clear indications that produce has gone bad, but sometimes it is not as obvious as we may think. With produce having a much shorter life span then most other food, it is crucial to be aware of the state your fruits and veggies are in.
If you are one to occasionally miss an expiration date or you’re not sure how to examine produce for spoilage, here are a few tips:
  1. Spinach: Spinach is a food that has a very short life span, so it’s important to eat it within the first couple of days after purchase. A sign of expiration is if the leaves start to lose their crispiness. You may begin to see a black liquid forming in the container and spots forming on the actual leaves. A clear giveaway will be a foul scent, so always make sure to smell the spinach before consuming.
  1. Bananas: A great way to examine a banana’s freshness is by its skin. A banana with a few brown spots is alright, but probably not if most of the banana is brown or has a moldy or foul smell. Another great way to know if your banana is still good is by feeling it. If it is soft and mushy it’s usually gone bad.
  1. Tomatoes: A healthy tomato is strong and firm. A great way to see if it is no longer edible is by taking a look at its skin. Most tomatoes that have gone bad are wrinkled and sometimes have leakage. A giveaway will be the black spots or white mold growing. At that point throw the tomato away.
  1. Oranges: Oranges that have not expired have a strong skin and are hard. Oranges that may be going bad are soft, mushy and tend to have indentations. The best way to know is by trying to peel it. If the peel comes off very easily and has a strong moldy odor, it’s not good.
All types of fruits and vegetables have different signs of expiration. The key to keeping your produce safe and edible is being aware. Always pay attention to length of time you have had your produce and keep an eye on its current state. After all, this is what you are feeding yourself and your family!
If you liked this blog, check out these other produce posts:
Photo Credit: Jane

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