Cleaning out the closet - Expired Meat and Medications

Today’s prompt is to talk about cleaning out your closet. I’m going to stick pretty close to the theme that Rick over at RadDiabetes talked about. And that is developing a rational and manageable approach in our lives to “What if?” Many of us have very real dangers and fears in our lives, that our doctors and insurance companies will conspire to deny us vital treatments, medications and insulin. That Snowmageddon will hit and our ability to get out and get vital supplies will be gone. So we start to act like little survivalists. We keep hoards of supplies. And we want them convenient. So it seems I must show my own distressing hoard to the right. And I admit, I don’t just do this with diabetes supplies, I do this with food. I have a large fridge inside, a second large fridge in the garage (I used to have two in the garage) and a large chest freezer. I have enough food to feed an army for six months. And that brings me to key issue in my blog today which is actually exemplified by my behavior with food. I admit it, I buy food that is expiring and I hoard it and then actually have to throw a bunch out when it get’s really “bad.” This behavior is notable in my purchasing of expiring meat which I buy at discounted prices, then vacuum seal and freeze. Have you seen a piece of meat in the bottom of the freezer that has an unknown date (I now date my meat, but it can still be scary). And so we come back round to diabetes supplies (and medical supplies in general). I am terrible about throwing expired stuff out.

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Funny you should bring this topic. Do you have any expired canned goods? I have a pile of them I have pulled from the food closet and can’t decide whether to open (yuck) them and dispose of contents then recycle the cans or just throw the whole thing in the trash bag. I know the responsible thing would be to recycle the cans but the thought of having to deal with all the contents is why it is all still waiting in the “expired” bag. And, i know that canned foods are good well beyond the exp date, even years in some cases.
I wonder how many do the “right thing” vs just going the easy route. Oh, my crowded freezer was taken care of by my side by side fridge dying and all the frozen food going bad before I realized it. That worked out well except for the high cost of refrigerators now.

I didn’t go into canned goods but I am notorious for looking through the discounted dinged cans for canned stuff I like and matching them up with coupons. It is like free food. And I have a full pantry, I mean really full. But the real issue is that canned goods often (even usually) don’t have expiration dates. They are not required to have them. Here is a good article by consumer reports on the issue. And here is an NPR story about a study of really, really, really old canned goods still being ok.

In general the guidance seems to be to worry about canned acidic foods older than about 1-2 years since they can eat through the can, otherwise 5 year old cans are probably just fine. And if you buy dented stuff or question old stuff, look for swollen cans and smell. If you heat something to a reasonable temperature like bringing it to a boil then that will kill anything that is in it. In which case it is all about taste anyway.

ps. I also lost an entire chest freezer of food once when my freezer turned into a heater and cooked all my food. Within three months I had a new freezer and it was full again.

Well, I do have quite a few cans with exp dates on them, and some not. Plus glass jars, like one of small whole beets that definitely look their age!!
Unfortunately, food banks will not accept food containers that have expired dates, even though everyone knows the food is perfectly good. In fact, one local grocer apparently sells exp foods at a deep discount. Very local though I think!

Actually I don’t think there is any law about selling certain classes of expired foods (you can’t sell expired baby formula). So if you walk into a dollar store you may find them selling cans of food past their “expiration date.” But that date isn’t really an expiration date it is really a suggested sell by date.

I believe there’s no need to throw out expired meds unless you notice a marked decline in effect. The us army/fda did studies which confirmed what I suspected for years: many last long past the expiration date, maybe about 10 years. It may not be true for everything depending on storage and also it’s not true for many drugs in liquid suspension or some topical creams. Even antibiotics are good for many years in pill form with maybe the exception of one or two they are safe and effective.

This was just confirmed by one of the doctors at a clinic I went to who diagnosed my flu. I had started a z pack that was 1.5 years old and she said no problem and Do you know what the US does with expired drugs? - they send them to other countries because they know they’re still good. The pharmacist confirmed this also, however also said it “might” be not as effective. The pills were in a bottle not the normal paper pack and there was no official expiration listed but normally it is two years.

As for storage I store meds other than insulin in a dry cool, place, downstairs, out of light, no refrigeration. I think I’ve only once noticed a weakening of a pain killer that was 4 years old, but I’m not sure if it was due to that or not.

As for food I don’t buy anything past expiration or store/freeze a lot of food. I noticed once a very old can of something had gone rotten but it takes a long, long time. As soon as anything looks off I throw it out because it’s not worth getting sick. But I guess in an emergency maybe a big freezer and lots canned goods are a good idea :smile:

Nope, I have lots of fears, but this just doesn’t happen to be one of them. Though I have to admit when I was having trouble getting my insulin and test strips when I started on Medicare, I was getting decidedly nervous as the end of those things came into view.

I don’t hoard meds, though occasionally unintentionally find something in the closet I’d stopped taking. As for food, nope, I only like the fresh stuff and don’t use canned goods very often. I throw food out every week because I often have to buy a larger amount than I use. I’m famous for breaking up bunches of asparagus, especially when it’s $6.99 a pound!

I guess bottom line is I’m a minimalist and hate clutter more than I fear deprivation!