Waste Not, Save Not

Published December 1st, 2015 by USA Rx
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

Americans can often be very wasteful, and a lot of this waste happens before you even see a product on the shelf.

With fresh produce, for instance, a lot of raw fruits and vegetables are left behind to rot simply because they aren’t shaped right to get a consumer’s attention. These rejected products may be perfectly safe to eat, and often enough they’re collected afterwards to be turned into blended or processed products, but just as often they aren’t given the chance to feed anything beyond bacteria and worms.

Unnecessary Endings

Expiration and sell-by dates also contribute a lot to the food waste in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, expiration dates aren’t significantly regulated on a federal or a state level aside from some drugs, infant formula, and baby food. Instead, they’re more like manufacturer guidelines on when a given item may start to decline from the best possible quality, and even perishable food items like fresh lettuce and cuts of meat may remain perfectly edible for days or even weeks past the date stamped on the packaging.

Canned food hardly needs any expiration date at all. Assuming the seal remains intact and the can doesn’t deform (which may indicate a broken seal or a rotting reaction going on inside the can), sealed food will still be safe to eat 5, 10, or even 20 years later. The only trouble is that nutrients may break down after all that time or else naturally acidic ingredients will slowly turn the consistency to mush. Eating expired food from a can may not be the best dining experience you’ve ever had, but it certainly won’t kill you.

The Drug Problem

Even drugs are often safe and effective long past their expiration dates. However, the difference between drugs and food is that food provides some obvious indications when it’s past the point of no return – it darkens, turns slimy, or starts to smell bad. With drugs it can be all but impossible to figure out when a given compound breaks down just from looking at a pill or an IV bag. As such, it’s usually a good idea to not trust a bottle of pills that’s been in your medicine cabinet for three years or however long it’s been since the date on the side.

If you need to dispose of old pills, you shouldn’t flush them down the toilet where they can contaminate the water supply. All across America, city, county, and state police departments are setting up prescription drug disposal boxes where you can anonymously drop off whatever medications you no longer want or need. Once they’re in police hands, they can safely be destroyed without putting anyone or anything at risk. And when it comes time to refill your old prescriptions, you should get a USA Rx pharmacy discount card. With our card in hand, you stand to save up to 75 percent off of medications both brand and generic, and it may even get you a better price than your insurance copay. Our card is accepted by over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, and getting one is as easy as typing in your name and an email address. For more information, try emailing us at [email protected] or giving us a call at 888-277-3911.

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