Have you ever picked up a bottle or can, glanced at the bottom and found it had expired two years previously? Many nonperishable products still have expiration dates. The product *might* be ok, but should you risk it?
This article was prompted by finding (yet again) outdated medications. These were among those found and thought to be acceptable. When a prescription strength version was prescribed, these were brought home to safely dispose of. I didn’t even look at the date on the box. It’s that easy to miss something as important as an expiration date.
Medications: The expiration dates on medications tend to be an underestimate, but that doesn’t mean they’re still safe. Some medications lose strength and others may be changed by time and cause adverse effects. It’s recommended that medications be checked regularly to make sure they haven’t expired.
Makeup: If you think about it, it’s logical that stuff applied to the face, especially on the lips or eyes, would need expiration dates. However, once we’ve taken the lipstick or mascara out of the box, that expiration date is tossed. If you wear it often, the product may be gone before it expires, but keeping the box might be wise so you can be sure.
Food: Canned goods have dates, and it’s wise to heed them. Having a can burst in the cabinet is dangerous and messy. Flour’s expiration date is easier to tell. If there are bugs in it, it has expired. If you bake, you also need to keep track of yeast. It’s not so much that it goes bad, it just won’t work anymore.
Alcohol: Strong alcohol, like vodka, usually doesn’t have a problem with time. Others can become vinegary. Proper storage can change that, and prevent mold from damaging beverages like wine, but always check the bottle/box/etc. when you buy it to see if it does need to be consumed by a certain date.
How to dispose of outdated medicines: Makeup and food can be tossed in the regular trash but medicines can’t. They also shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet. Dangerous drugs are showing up in the drinking water supply from that practice.
Instead, it needs to be rendered useless (water and clumping cat litter are good choices), wrapped thoroughly in duct tape and *then* put into the regular trash. Some areas also have drop off days where you can return them to a pharmacy or other site.
Expiration dates are there for a reason; to protect us from using a product that could be dangerous. It’s a boring job, but the medicine chest, pantry and freezer need to be checked on a regular basis. Tossing out “perfectly good” items is a lot better than food poisoning or other problems caused by outdated products.