Is it safe to buy expiring food to save money? Here's what the experts say

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Is it safe to buy expired food to save money?
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For many, saving money where they can is a necessity right now. And for some, that means changing their habits at the grocery store.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For many, saving money where they can is a necessity right now. And for some, that means changing their habits at the grocery store.

"Meat, dairy and produce are the top three categories," said Josh Domingues, founder & CEO of Flashfood, which is an app that has 2.5 million users.

The app shows grocery stores near you that have food available at a deep discount, and it's grown more than 300% in the U.S in the last year.

"As the employees bring stuff to the back, instead of discarding it with two to three days of shelf life, they scan it into the FlashFood app and it auto-populates at 50% off. (Then) they upload the quantity they have," said Domingues.

As the cost of food has increased because of inflation -- take eggs up 49.1% from a year ago, bread up nearly 16%, coffee seeing a near 16% increase while baby food is up 10.6% -- more people are turning to food with a shorter shelf life.

"If it is stored in a safe manner, it's usually going to be okay after a use-by, best by or best-before date. It does not mean that that food is unsafe," said Registered Dietitian Sarah Barnes, who is the assistant professor of nutrition at La Salle University.

Consumer data from Attest shows that 16.6% of people recently started eating foods after their expiration date, while 29.5% have already been doing so.

The data also shows that a whopping 57.4% of shoppers are saving money by buying discounted food that is close to expiring. Nearly 24% recently started doing this.

Barnes says terms like "best by dates" really refer to when the food is at its best quality.

But when it comes to sell-by dates Barnes says, "The food is usually still going to be okay for a couple of days after that sell-by date as long as it has been stored correctly -- meaning, you know, at the correct temperature specifically for perishable items," said Barnes.

She also says to shop your pantry first, use what you have that may be nearing its expiration. And when you go to the grocery store, always go with a list. That will help you cut back on impulse buys.