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Is that milk past its 'sell by' date? Drink it anyway.

Is that milk past its 'sell by' date? Drink it anyway.

My father used to keep food in the refrigerator for days, even weeks after the “best by” date, so long as it looked and smelled OK. My mom, by contrast, went out to buy a new carton of milk as soon as the date passed. Often there would be two containers of milk in our refrigerator: the half-empty one my dad was committed to finishing, and the new one my mom had purchased, out of fear that she might get sick if she drank my dad's past-date milk.

Scenes such as this play out in households across the country. One person dutifully follows best-by, sell-by and use-by date labels on packaged and processed food while another jeers at them. According to one study, more than...

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