Americans Don't Know When to Throw Out Food, Survey Finds

Rachel Tepper Paley
June 23, 2014

Photo credit: Amos Schliack/StockFood

Expiration dates can be a tricky thing—they’re not always set in stone—which explains why so many Americans are utterly befuddled by them. 

A recent survey of more than 1,000 adults across the country conducted by NSF International, a nonprofit public health group, found that one in four people use visual cues to decide if something is still safe to eat—and that means mold. Yuck.

Here are a few of the survey’s most nauseating highlights:

17 percent of people are most likely to toss food only when it starts to smell.

14 percent of consumers never throw out frozen food. 

Two in five people say they have avoided eating something at a friend’s or family member’s house because they didn’t trust the safety or quality of the food.

People over the age of 55 are most likely to keep food that’s past any date printed on the label—including an expiration date, sell-by date, or best-used by-date.

Our takeaway? Read this expiration date guide as soon as possible. Please, people.