June 28, 2017

Expiration Dates; Fact or Fiction?

We are a consumer based society that has been trained to believe the “expiration”, “best used by” or the “you’ll die if you use after this date” are firm dates that mean the product is no longer usable. Marketers have figured out that one great way to get continuous repeat business is to train us to pay a lot of attention to those dates and throw the product out after that date has passed. Am I saying that all expiration dates can just be ignored? Of course not, but I have literally seen expiration dates on paper and plastic goods.

It’s impossible for me to cover all types of products, so I am just going to touch on a few that I think might be popular or important. There are some pretty standard storage rules that will increase the life of just about everything. Keep your items in a cool, dark and dry area.

Wheat, sugar, honey, salt and so on. I have a pretty extensive list of staples., and here is a link showing you how to store them long term. Many of these items will last 25+ years. Some, such as honey, will store indefinitely, when stored correctly.
Canned Food

From Food Reference.com “Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing. Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture. Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile. Food safety is not an issue in products kept on the shelf or in the pantry for long periods of time. In fact, canned food has an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (75° F and below). Canned food as old as 100 years has been found in sunken ships and it is still microbiologically safe! We don’t recommend keeping canned food for 100 years, but if the can is intact, not dented or bulging, it is edible.”

For home canned food, the Ball Jar company used to have the following in the FAQ on their site. They have since revamped their site and I can’t find it again. But what they said was:

“How long can home canned food be stored?
Food that has been properly canned, using an up-to-date, tested recipe and that has a vacuum seal will keep indefinitely; however, over an extended period of time changes do occur. These changes may affect the flavor, color, texture and nutritional value of the product. For the highest quality, use home canned food within one year.

How do I know if a jar of home canned food is spoiled?
When up-to-date guidelines, such as those outlined on this site, are followed exactly, there should be little concern about the quality and safety of your home canned foods. As with commercial packaged foods, it is always wise to examine any food before using it. When you take it from the shelf, check each jar to see that it has retained a vacuum seal and that no visible changes have taken place during storage”
Pop, soda, coke, whatever you call it, where ever you live

This one is a bit tricky. I can’t find any firm numbers, but the research that I have done shows that regular, NON diet, pop will last for a long time, some places say years. As long as the can remains sealed, it will remain carbonated. The corn syrup lasts much longer than artificial sweeteners.

Diet pop goes bad not long after the expiration date. This has to do with the artificial sweeteners.


Chocolate by itself, according to Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. How should I store chocolate?

A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate may turn white. This is called “blooming”. The chocolate is still perfectly edible. Here is what Hershey’s has to say in the Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?

A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom.” Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom.” Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed.

Bottled Water

The water itself won’t go bad but the chemicals from the plastic can leech into the water over time. If you use water bottles regularly and rotate through your supply, this shouldn’t be a concern. If you are storing water bottles for pure water storage, rotate every 6-12 months.


I am not a Doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but I have done plenty of research on the subject of medicine. From the below links I’ll show you how I had come to believe that in large part, big-pharma has sold us a bill of goods.

Drugs Frequently Potent Past Expiration details how in the mid 1980’s the military was faced with spending billions to replace medications that were reaching the end of their expiration date and requested the FDA to test whether medications were still effective after their expirations dates. Read the article for full details, but some of the high points:

The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results, never before reported, show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it.

In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty notes that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn’t mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful.”

“Joel Davis, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, says that with a handful of exceptions – notably nitroglycerin, insulin and some liquid antibiotics – most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. “Most drugs degrade very slowly,” he says. “In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years, especially if it’s in the refrigerator.””

Here are more articles dealing with the expiration dates of medicines from MD’s that are themselves prepper’s.

From SurvivalBlog.com

Antibiotics and Antiviral Medications; by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD
Part One, Part Two, Part Three.
A Doctor’s Thoughts on Antibiotics, Expiration Dates, and TEOTWAWKI, by Dr. Bones

The Survival Podcast
Episode-685 with Dr. Eric Wilke on Survival Medicine

Doom and Bloom
The Truth About Expiration Dates by Dr Bones

There was only one medicine that I could find that was in fact harmful when used after it had expired. That was Tetracycline and it only effected one person in the 1960’s I believe. It was suggested that it could have been something else that caused the reaction, but it was blamed on Tetracycline.

From the research I have done it looks like medicines that are in pill form only, not liquid or gel, will last much longer than the expiration date suggests. I have and will continue to store and use medicines that were prescribed and not fully used that have exceeded their expiration dates.

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  1. Nancy Sims says:

    Thank you VERY much for this post, Chris. Something I, and my family wonder about a lot. I worked with 6 Drs., so knew about drugs lasting much longer than the expiration date, and not becoming dangerous, just slowing losing potency over time. I guess common sense would tell you to open the can before throwing it away, and check what it looks and smells like, but we have become “conditioned” to look for those expiration dates, just like you say. What do you think about the water being stored in the large barrels, with the additive to make them “stable” for up to 5 years? I suppose if things really got so bad as to not have running water, it wouldn’t much matter. The Berkey will be in use at that time, and I pray it would do the trick. At any rate, I so appreciate your time and work, and this article is a great one for me! Thank you again, Nancy

    • Chris Ray says:

      Nancy if the water were in metal or glad I would feel safe leaving it forever. When it comes to plastic, as long as its food grade plastic it should be rotated. If you have a 55 drum, you can drain some and refill it. It might be good forever, but I have to believe that over time some chemicals will still leach in.

  2. Working in the food processing industry for many years i’ve seen too often companies modifying labels to make profit margins.

    I suggest you use your own senses and gut feeling about food before you eat it. Use the dates as a guideline but not the bible!

    Thanks for the post

    • Chris Ray says:

      Good insight, thank you. I bet if we could take a peek behind the curtain on a lot of things we would be shocked as to how much marketers and advertisers pull over on

  3. Great Stuff Brother! Good Info!
    I find some extended Best if Sold By dates in stores today. I rarely used canned food before I started prepping. This from a guy (me) that ran out of peanut butter last month (criminal). I shop more by expiration date than I do price any more. Those Wallyworld folks sell in such volume I can’t seem to find dates further down the road anywhere else.

    A week or so ago I saw a guy that buries metal trash cans in the ground for a small root cellar. I was thinking that would be great for keeping sensitive meds.

    Nancy, as to water left for too long, I’d still want to boil it and then run it through the Berkey. Especially in a metal can. Of course down here in the South USA we have creepy crawly things all over the place. Boiling won’t get out the all chemicals that leach in, but some, and I imagine would improve the taste. That’s why I invested in the StoveTec water pasteurizer to go with my StoveTec stove. It’s an awesome design and works great. Just got to remember I can’t pour hot water into my Berkey.

  4. Margaret Kiemele says:

    Hi Chris
    Great info again! You really make us think – and that’s good.
    I’m assuming (mistake) – bottled water in plastic – is food grade safe. So I guess checking the # proves that correct or not ?
    If water was stored over a year – in plastic – would boiling, or adding Aerobic Oxygen drops – make it drinkable – or is it only good for washing or brushing teeth? Could it be “recleaned” through a bIg Berky. I guess bottom line – question is can water stored in plastic – for over a year – be made drinkable again?

    When you read that earthquakes are a definite part of Revelation and End Times – I just think water in glass could all be lost.
    Thank you

    • Chris Ray says:

      Hi Margaret,

      I didn’t mean to imply water should be stored in glass, just that I would trust if because it wouldn’t leach. To answer your questions about baking it drinkable again, yes, running it through a water purifier like a Berkey would take out any chemicals. Boiling wouldn’t do anything as it just kills bacteria and viruses.

      If I had water that had been stored in food grade plastic, even if it had been stored for years, in a survival situation, I would drink it to avoid dehydration. For now, when we’re still in the preparing mode, just rotate as best you can.

  5. Margaret Kiemele says:

    I don’t ever recall seeing news reports – from both Canada and the US – talking about corn crops failing. We have lost 70% of our apple crop in Ontario. Down East – they are reporting poor potatoe yield and in British Columbia – almost all crops have turned to seed. This is extreme!!!

    You mentioned “corn” syrup lasting a long while – so I guess we should stock up now – while we can afford it – and any other “corn related items” – which is quite a wide range of products!

    • Chris Ray says:

      I know there has been talk of the corn crops around here not doing so well, and I have heard of other crops from other parts of the country not faring well either. This is the third or fourth year where one crop or another didn’t fare well. It almost looks like things could be lining up for a worldwide famine in a few years.

  6. Interesting. Any more info on properly storing honey? I recently bought two quart jars.

  7. my grandma had a friend that gave her 100’s of cans of soup and thery were fine like 10 years later i do not go by dates i grew up without dates.

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