Yesterday, a friend posted a photo on Facebook of the best-by date on her Worcestershire sauce. It was 10/28/2014. She wanted to use it and asked, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

The best-by, use-by, and sell-by dates on food are a big cause of unnecessary food waste. Somewhere along the line we started interpreting those dates as “will kill you after” dates instead of what they are — suggestions by manufacturers that indicate when they think the food’s peak quality will start to diminish. We end up throwing away a lot of edible food because of those dates, instead of using our common sense and our senses of sight and smell to tell if a food has gone bad.

Putting those suggested dates in their proper place is just one way to curb your personal food waste. I’ve written about tips for reducing household food waste many times. sent me a comprehensive infographic that covers household food waste in a comprehensive way. There’s a lot of great information in this guide, including statistics on food waste, information about those confusing best-by dates, and tips to make sure that you waste as little food as possible.


I like this guide because it has common sense information about packaged food, and it encourages you to be thoughtful and smart when it comes to the perishables you buy. In addition to curbing food waste, following advice like this will save you money. Every time you throw food away that you've bought, it’s like throwing away money. 

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.