Food safety is always a top priority for us. Each week, a posse of volunteers looks at every can and packaged product for any signs of defects in packaging or quality of product. We also look at expiration dates and follow guidelines used by the Northern Illinois Food Bank for determining when to keep or throw away food. Dates that are on packages are printed by the manufacturer indicating “use by,” “sell by,” or “best used by.” However, the safety of the food may last far beyond that date. For example, canned vegetables may be placed on our shelves for two to five years past the printed date on the can. Canned tomato products (high acid) may only be 12-18 months past date. We have noticed that, all too often, when we receive food from the pantry of deceased individuals, much of the food is very dated. Of course, we throw out this food. This makes us wonder if some of our elderly citizens are eating food from their cupboards that may be possibly tainted. In their earlier years, they were accustomed to storing up on good buys; but that was when they were raising active families. The habit continues in older years, but their consumption levels drop. The result can be stockpiles of forgotten food. Perhaps, now would be a good time to go through your food supply to check dates and to rotate food so that the oldest date (assuming it is still acceptable) is always the next to be eaten. While you are at it, make it a point to help your parents or elderly neighbors. And remember, “If in doubt, throw it out.” Check out our website for a complete list of guidelines for food storage. M.O.R.E. is located at 829 Greenlee Street in Marengo, and is open from 9a.m.-noon on Wednesdays, and from 4p.m.-6p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, call 815-568-7950, or visit www.marengomorecenter.org

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