Is Selling Past-Date Food Illegal?

Have you ever been to a surplus or salvage grocery store? If not, you may be surprised to learn that some of these shops are selling standard foods past their printed date (or foods that are too damaged to be sold in a traditional grocery) at a discount price.

Some community members in Albuquerque felt that same sense of surprise when they found past-date items at a local surplus store, according to an article on Albuquerque's KRQE News 13. The store hosts a range of past-date items -- everything from salad dressing to apple sauce to sausage.

Many assume that these past-date products are dangerous -- filled with bacteria or prime for causing foodborne illnesses. As it turns out, eating foods past their "Best By" date is typically ok for your health. If a food is marked with a past-date stamp, the food could potentially taste different, but most will not be dangerous until much after the printed date. Many can last up to two years, according to KRQE. Foods with expiration dates, on the other hand, are more serious as they spoil much more quickly.

Beyond the health factors, the practice of selling foods past their printed date is actually ok as well. It is not illegal to do so. In fact, many soup kitchens serve foods that have recently passed their printed dates, but also train the employees to look for unfit products.

The lines of approval start to get a bit blurry surrounding past-date medicines. Like food, selling past-date medicine is not actually illegal, but ingesting expired medicines can in some cases be poisonous, and the medicine is often less effective. The Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding past-date drugs.

The Albuquerque store causing all the hype also got on board with the FDA's recommendation. Initially selling past-date medicine in addition to food, the store decided to take it off the shelves until more research had been done, according to KRQE.

Check out the slideshow above to find out which foods you need to toss when and which stay good for a very, very long time.