I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Expiration dates for household items

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Monday, January 28, 2019
(News 12 at 6 O’Clock / NBC 26 at 7)

(WRDW/WAGT) – We’re usually concerned with expiration and "best used by" dates in refrigerators, but did you know there are things outside of your fridge that could make you sick after a certain date too?

It’s the age-old kitchen question we ask ourselves multiple times a week – “What’s the expiration date on that?”

Liz Owens: “What’s the biggest thing in your fridge that you are concerned about expiring?”
“Milk. Milk, every single time. And eggs.”

It’s the magic number we use to determine when something is no longer good. But there are things we don’t think of every day that also need to be checked.

For example, germs love to breed on wooden spoons, so it’s suggested to toss those out after two years. And a wooden cutting board? That has a life span of three years.

Diane Wood knows to throw out her toothbrush every two to three months, but her hairbrush? She couldn’t tell us how old that staple tool was. But that brush could give her dandruff after using it for a year.

We asked Diane about a blanket we saw in her home as well. She told us that’s only four months old, so it’s safe from dust mites for a bit longer. Those little critters like to sneak into pillows after three years.

We sorted through the fridge to find out a few other expiration periods:

Salad dressing – 12 months after “best by” date
Soda – nine years
Tabasco sauce – five years

It's also good to know the FDA doesn't require expiration dates on food products. Manufacturers do it. Here is what their labels mean:

Best by: For consumers; a sign of when flavor or quality is at its peak.
Sell by: For the store; a sign for how long to keep a product on shelves.
Use by: For consumers; a sign of when to use a product by for the best quality.

The dates are for quality, not safety.

The one thing the FDA does set an expiration date for is baby formula.