I've probably made some comments on this subject before, and I know I've probably commented on blogs of others on the subject but, expiration dates are one of my pet peeves, so here's my gentle rant for today.
I'm one with a mindset that "expiration dates" are primarily marketing ploys and product rotation guides (with a few exceptions). And for the record, it's my understanding that ONLY baby food/formula is REQUIRED by "governing authorities" to carry an expiration date. I've eaten foods, including canned, with years old 'expiration dates'. Many would not chance that, but I'm not one of those strict conformers. That's not to say I entirely throw caution to the wind either. I know that certain foods have a propensity for spoilage, like produce, dairy and meat. Pharmaceuticals may be under different governing guidance. And it's really pharmaceuticals I'm questioning today.
On my snail pace of decluttering long-neglected and overlooked things (yep, that's what I've been working on lately), I'm looking at medicines. A couple years ago when I was experiencing severe lower back pain, I was prescribed medicinal patches. The prescription label has an expiration given as " 1/14 " presuming that to mean " Jan 2014 ". The box, and it's remaining contents, which are in sealed pouches, gives "06 2015". Hmm, now isn't that interesting; the manufacturer / packager says they're good for nearly a year and a half beyond what the pharmacy put on their label. I don't think it's the drug that's rotten! So when we get 'expiration dates' on prescriptions, where the product is transferred from a LARGE bottle that we never see, counted out and placed in our SMALL bottles that we take home, how do we know for sure we're getting an accurate 'expiration date' in either direction? Who would really know and does it REALLY matter?
The only chemistry I had in school was the wee bit included in general science and biology at the high school and junior college levels. Are chemical compositions (in pharmaceuticals) stable, or do they degrade? And if they degrade, how fast? Does degradation change the chemical composition? Is one chemical more stable than another? Why is it "good" one day and not the next? How much time beyond the expiration might a product still really be good?
How soon do you throw out your "expired" products whether boxed, canned, frozen, medicinal - presciption or over the counter? And while you're at it, explain to me why there should be an expiration date on deodorant. Seriously, my deodorant has an expiration date stamped on it of 10-2016!
Are my vitamins with expiry dates of Oct 2013 and 01/1011 totally ineffective? Will they poison me if I still take them? Probably not, for either question, but given their storage over the years, it's probably time to replace them.