Eric Jensen

Ted Labuza ate sour cream two weeks past its due date. And lived to tell the tale. Dana Gunders went to the market and found fat-free milk in quarts that had no date label; the half-gallons had a “sell-by” date. A container from a different brand had a “best-by” date. Even though nearly all consumers make some decisions about what to throw away based on those stamped dates, they cannot rely on them, said Gunders, food and agriculture staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is the coauthor of a report issued by the NRDC and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic calling for changes to make the dates more useful. Currently, those dates are manufacturers’ suggestions for when an item is at its peak or are efforts to help stores manage their inventory not indications of food safety, the report says. Here’s what those labels mean, according to the report: “Best by” or “best if used by”: The manufacturer’s estimate of when the food will no longer be at highest quality. “Use by”: An estimate of the last date it’s at peak quality. “Sell by”: The manufacturer’s suggested date to the grocer to no longer sell a product, based on the idea that it will still be good quality for a “reasonable” time if purchased on that date. Still, more than 90% of Americans say they use those dates to decide whether to discard food, leading to tons of wasted food each year, the report notes. “I don’t know of any data that consuming a product beyond the date has caused illness,” said Labuza, a professor of food science and engineering at the University of Minnesota who has studied shelf life for decades. His sour cream was OK because he keeps his refrigerator at 34 degrees. He recommends consumers let theirs go no higher than 40 degrees and get a thermometer to make sure. Even at that temperature, listeria can grow, he cautioned.

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5. Lebanon At the moment, the U.S. State Department advises travelers not to visit Lebanon, as the risk of “spontaneous upsurge in violence remains.” But while the potential dangers of traveling to are not to be taken lightly, neither are the culinary temptations that the country has to offer. Lebanese food is often considered the most familiar Middle Eastern cuisine, with traditional dishes such as falafel and shawarma sold in countries around the world. But in the capital Beirut, a wide range of upscale restaurants have made the city a sought-out destination for fine dining and a buzzing nightlife. At Lux, accessory designer and restaurateur Johnny Farah serves Mediterranean fare, and ingredients are harvested at his own organic farm in the Lebanese mountains. And after establishing locations in London and Paris, Franco-North African Momo opened in Beirut, serving modern and elegant versions of mezze; the restaurant also arranges popular events such as dance parties at night. READ MORE: World’s best food markets 6. Afganistan The latest Travel Warning for Afghanistan warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan, as the risk of kidnapping and terror attacks still remains high. But when it comes to food, Afghanistan has plenty of flavorful dishes to offer.

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Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Miranda Kerr headed to meet a friend for dinner in New York City on Sept. 16. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Hilary Duff was all smiles while leaving a studio in Studio City, Calif., on Sept. 16. Celebrity News: September 2013 Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth have ended their engagement, their reps confirm. Here, they attended the premiere of Relativity Media’s “Paranoia” at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles on Aug. 8. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Sienna Miller attended the Burberry Prorsum Spring / Summer 2014 show at London Fashion Week in London on Sept. 16. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Reese Witherspoon kept a low profile as she left the gym after a workout on Sept. 16, 2013 in Brentwood, Calif. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Malin Akerman attended the 2013 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A.

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The brothers could face up to six years in prison and $1.5 million in fines each if convicted. Produce farmers don’t have a “true-kill” step to eliminate bacteria, the way dairies and other food producers do, Doyle said. Pasteurization and proper storage can assure the safety of milk, he said. “We cannot say that with bag salads because we don’t have that true-kill step that will kill harmful bacteria,” Doyle said. Higher safety standards are possible for produce, he said, but it will take time and money to develop them, and produce is a low-profit business. Improved safety practices are economically feasible, said Michael Hirakata, president of the Rocky Ford Growers Association. Colorado cantaloupe farmers launched the association after the listeria epidemic to protect the reputation of Rocky Ford cantaloupes, sought-after for their distinct sweetness. The Jensens farmed 90 miles from the Rocky Ford area, but they used the Rocky Ford name. Hirakata’s group registered Rocky Ford as a trademark, hired a full-time food safety manager and built a central packing operation where melons are washed and rinsed. The group said it passed an unannounced FDA safety audit last month. “This was the business we’re in and we wanted to keep doing it, so for us, it was feasible,” Hirakata said.