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Lots of good food gets tossed in the trash because many Americans aren’t really sure what all those dates stamped on the packages actually mean.

In fact, the US Department of Agriculture reveals 31% goes to waste. Publishing new survey results in the journal Waste Management, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found that 37% of participants will dump an item as soon as it reaches the printed date. But terms like “best by, “use by,” and “sell by” don’t mean the food becomes dangerous for consumption. They’re not even federally mandated. Until a standard is created, it’s still best to do a sniff test or visual inspection, says Mental Floss.

How long will you keep foods past their dates?

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