Tag: Family

No.  Expiration dates are a giant conspiracy from manufacturers to get us to throw out everything in our pantry and buy new soup or olives or ketchup in order to keep them in business.

(OK, maybe a little paranoid…but maybe not.)

I mean…what’s so bad about soup that’s been in a can in your pantry for lets say…6 years?  It’s in a can for God’s sake!  The cans’ purpose is to keep that food contained until you are ready to eat it. No air can get in, and they’re so loaded up with preservatives that no bacteria, bugs or other bad things could live in there anyway.  So what’s the big deal!?!

Note:  I think preservatives are one of the greatest things ever created.  They’re designed to preserve things…forever…and at my age, I eat as many things loaded with preservatives as I possibly can.

I will go so far as to say that preservatives have made expiration dates…obsolete.

Except for milk.  Which I don’t need an expiration date to tell me has gone bad.

Or cottage cheese.  Or anything dairy or meat/fish/poulty, or fruits and vegetables or leftovers left in the refrigerator for more than 5 days for that matter.  They all need to be tossed on a regular basis.  They don’t come with expiration dates…but I’m not stupid…I KNOW THEY EXPIRE!

But ketchup?  Come on!  That stuff has got to have a shelf life of 6.2 million years!!!

So what about medicines?  I confess, I don’t check the expiration date on pill bottles (I know, you’re shocked!).   I know I probably should, because that stuff might really do some harm if it’s past its prime – or worse, not provide the intended relief it was designed to provide.

But it takes so much time to go to the other room…find a pair of reading glasses…turn on enough light to read in the bathroom…find the expiration date on the pill bottle…and then make a decision if I’ve had it “too long” (since I don’t automatically believe the expiration date in the first place).

From years of experience however, I can tell you that Tums don’t loose their fast acting antacid relief even after they’ve been sitting in a drawer for about 5 years (although they no longer resemble the original shape or color of a Tum) .  Advil still works even if it hasn’t seen the light of day since the First Bush was President.  And, Vicodin NEVER stops working.

But antibiotics are a different story.  I was married to a doctor after all so I KNOW that if you find a rogue antibiotic laying in the bottom of a pill bottle you probably shouldn’t take it…even if you’re dying.  In fact, you should be wondering if the illness you were suffering from way back when was actually cured, since you obviously didn’t finish taking all of your antibiotics at that time!!!

In all fairness though, expiration dates can tell us how long the manufacturer thinks their product will be most effective…but it’s up to each of us to determine if using their product whenever, is still good enough.  Obviously, if they really thought it would be dangerous for us to use their product after a certain amount of time, they would build in a self-destruct mechanism to destroy it on the expiration date.  And since that isn’t the case…I don’t think expiration dates matter at all.

I should subtitle this post: Stories of my Father.


I can remember sitting at the kitchen counter watching my mom clean out the refrigerator.  She was busy tossing expired milk, old yogurt, and moldy bread in the trashcan.  (That makes it sound like we only had rotting food… we only SOMETIMES had rotting food.)  My dad was busy taking the food OUT of the trashcan, saying things like, “just cut off the moldy parts and it’s perfectly fine”, and “do you know what yogurt is?  Bacteria laden OLD MILK!”


I was sick earlier this year and had a cough that kept me up at night, so I asked my dad for some cough syrup.  He gave me a bottle of brown liquid that was apparently “Black Cherry Explosion” flavored.

Me: “Dad, this expired in 1994.”

Dad: “Medicine doesn’t go bad.  It’s just a ploy to get you to buy more.”

Me: “Dad, do you realize that you have not only had this for over a decade, but you actually packed this in a box and moved it to a new house… TWICE.”

Dad: “Well, it’s probably just extra potent now!”

Me: “Yeah, but will it kill me?”

Dad: “Maybe.”

Me: “Awesome.”

(I tried not to take it, but at some point I got so desperate that I just closed my eyes and took a swig.  It worked, but for my own peace of mind, I bought a new bottle.)


Dad: “We have two kinds of salad dressing… Oh wait, they’re the same kind.”

Mike: “Brian, they’re different colors.  How OLD are these?”

Dad: “Hm… Shut up and eat your salad, Mike.”


I went down to Denver to my grandmother’s house.  We went to the basement to clean out her office.  Between the shelves of Christmas decorations and newspapers from the 1960s were cabinets with food.  There was a small glass jar with artichoke hearts.  The liquid inside had almost solidified and there was yellow stuff floating inside it.  The expiration date had faded off.  At least I know where my dad gets it from.


I live with a boy who throws away milk 2 days before the expiration date.  Now I’m the one taking the yogurt out of the trash.

So do expiration dates matter?  According to my dad, not so much. But have you ever accidentally covered your salad with really old dressing that your father refuses to throw away?  Trust me, it’s not a pleasant experience.