My friend Truman laughs at me because I investigate the expiration date of every food product I look at. Dirty Don's rans the gamut here. Last week I found Little Debbie Snack Cakes for a buck (a 40-cent savings) that were set to expire at the end of May and others that had April 2010 expiration dates. Truman says the fact that he's alive after eating food with a May 2007 expiration date proves that I'm just too picky. So I asked two nice church ladies, both wheeling carts through the maze of cardboard boxes and mismatched shelving, about buying food past the suggested expiration dates.
"Oh I do it all the time, child," said one. "You just have to be careful not to go too far back."
I picked up a bottle of Paul Newman salad dressing with a July 2009 expiration date. "What about this?" I asked.
"It's a little far off," she said, "but it's mostly vinegar, you know. It should be OK."
She told me that she usually won't buy anything that's a year old. We both looked at jars of jam that had 2008 expiration dates. "It's probably good," the other lady said." And it's only 75 cents."
Translation: If it's not still fresh, you're only out three quarters.
I decided I'd risk going 60 days past an expiration date, but no further. But most of the products I bought were due to expire in May or much later, such as the jugs of organic lemonade or the hunk of Jarlsberg cheese that was several bucks less than at Costco (which is, in turn, much less expensive than most traditional supermarkets). I passed on the $7 cheesecakes, although they looked delicious, because I knew if I bought one, I'd probably eat the whole thing.
The cat treats stamped "Best Before 12/2009" seem to be fine: My cat loved them and after three days appears to be perfectly healthy.