People may be throwing out good food and losing money because of the date on the package

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When you're shopping for groceries do you know the difference between sell by, best by, expires by, and use by dates? (KFSN)

When you're shopping for groceries do you know the difference between sell by, best by, expires by, and use by dates? If you don't you're probably throwing away a lot of good food and money.

In an experiment, Action News performed we saw if people could tell the difference between a normal egg and one that was three months old.

Jessica Medina, from the Fresno State Food Security Project, argues most old food is perfectly edible.

"It just may not have the best quality that it had when you originally had it packaged."

It's her job to teach students who come for food dates on packaging shouldn't always be taken as gospel. One package of old coffee was two years past it's best by date and she said it's still safe to drink.

"There's so many different dates on these packages it's hard to know, for someone whose not familiar with the information, what really is good past a certain date and what is not," said Medina.

Packaging dates are a reason American Wasteland author Jonathon Bloom said almost half of food produced in America goes to waste. Bloom estimates Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl every day. In other words, it could fill the stadium more than twice.

Now, one lawmaker in California hopes that'll change.

"An incredible amount of food is being thrown out because of confusing date labels," said Assemblyman David Chiu, eastern San Francisco.

Chiu proposed a state bill earlier this year to reform labeling. One date to indicate freshness and another for when the food expires and it's unsafe to eat.

"The labels they see on products might be unnecessarily scaring consumers into throwing out products they don't need to," said Chiu.

His bill has since been shelved, but there is a national proposal making its way through the house and senate. If it becomes a law it'll set a nationwide standard for food expiration date labeling.

In the meantime, there are some who disagree with pushing the limits on best by dates.

"It's a fine line between saving money and are we going to get people sick," said Erika Ireland, Department of Food Science and Nutrition.

Ireland teaches at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Fresno State. She said those most at risk are children, the elderly, and anyone with a chronic disease.

And according to the centers for disease control, every year there 1200 deaths a year due to foodborne illness.

"One of the things that do concern me is that if we have a compromised immune system and you ingest something you don't have the ability-- your body does not have the ability to fight that off," said Ireland.

Knowing the risks, Chef Shayna of the Young Chefs Academy agreed to take part in our experiment anyway. We gave her two boiled eggs, one new and one three months old.

They've both been properly stored, passed the floating test, and don't give off any odors.

Without knowing which is which she tries to guess the freshness. The first one, which we know is fresh, tastes good to her.

"Tastes like a hard-boiled egg that I eat for breakfast every day. The whites look nice. The yolk is creamy-- looks good."

Her reaction to the second older one, "The whites are a little more rubbery, which I don't love as much when I'm eating hard boiled eggs. The flavor of the yolk is a little different. It has a sour tart taste to it making me think it might be the older egg."

Her reaction isn't surprising since we know freshness and quality decrease over time.

But she didn't get sick and even the USDA said eggs are safe weeks after it's packaging date.

It's not exactly science-- just food for thought.
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