"Is that milk past its 'sell-by' date? Drink it anyway." So proclaimed the headline of a recent op-ed for the Los Angles Times on the topic of whether "expired" food is OK to eat. Most Americans don't seem to think so: A 2013 study co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic found that 91% of us admit to sometimes tossing food because of the sell-by date "out of a mistaken concern for food safety." It's mistaken, because the date labels don't signal when food is unsafe, but when the manufacturer thinks the food will taste best. "Foodborne illness comes from contamination, not from the natural process of decay," an NRDC scientist told Consumer Reports last year. "And our senses are well-equipped to recognize decay."
Indeed, just sniff it, recommends NPR. A bunch of Danes might be doing that today. Quartz reports that WeFood, a supermarket that exclusively sells food past its expiration date or in dinged-up packaging, opened in Copenhagen Monday. The prices are 30% to 50% less than what consumers would pay in a traditional store, reports the Local, and WeFood hopes that will help attract a dual audience: those concerned about the planet, and those with low incomes. As far as the planet goes, Denmark's effort has the potential to make a small dent. The country is responsible for just 0.05% of global annual food waste, which clocks in at a staggering 2.9 trillion pounds. (This 20-year-old managed to save 4,000 pounds of uneaten food.)