Rachel was interviewed for CTV News on “More Canadians eating food past ‘best before’ dates as costs rise” with Sam Houpt.

Check out the video HERE.

As the cost of groceries increases, more Canadians are willing to go past the best before dates on food. A recent study out of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab surveyed 9,109 Canadians to see how they are managing food safety risks.

It found that 58 per cent of respondents were more inclined to consume food close to or past its best before date due to higher food costs. Forty-eight per cent said they were unsure whether eating such food could lead to illness, and just over 50 per cent said they believe higher food prices have forced them to take more risks with food.

“The findings from our study at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab highlight a concerning trend: as food prices climb, more Canadians are taking risks with their food safety,” said Agri-Food Director Dr. Sylvain Charlebois. “It’s imperative that we address these issues collectively to ensure that no Canadian must choose between economic hardship and their health.”

Some local shoppers on Thursday told CTV News they have treated best before dates as guidelines rather than hard rules in the past – the rising cost of food only reinforcing that strategy.

“I’ve always done that and I’ll continue to do it,” said Doug Gray, “but more so now because of the cost of groceries going up.”

For Kirsten Tucker, it marks a clear change in her family’s eating habits.

“We do not follow [best before dates] anymore to be honest,” Tucker said. “We travel for our groceries further than we used to because of the costs, so it makes it harder.”

Celine Hobbs says she is strict about following the printed guidelines, but can understand why other families would push the limits of their food’s lifespan.

“It’s either that or buy things that are not healthy or the cheapest alternative that you possibly find just so that you can get food,” Hobbs said.

The findings out of Agri-Food are in line with what some nutritionists have observed locally. Rachel Caven of Caven Nutrition says around 50 per cent of her clients have admitted to consuming food past its best before date. A tactic, she says, that does not immediately raise health concerns.

“Depending on the product, you can actually push the best before date a little bit,” she said. “You might find it decrease the quality or the taste of the food, but it won’t necessarily be dangerous.”

That advice ends at food products that can become hazardous.

“Absolutely stick with the best before and expiry dates on all meats, but things like dried foods – you can push a little bit, some condiments as well – maybe a couple of days.”

Rather than put safety on the line, Caven recommends doing some extra planning ahead of the trip to the grocery store.

“The biggest thing is planning out some meals for the week and doing batch cooking. It’s okay to have some of the processed foods every once in a while when you need to, but trying to have some really cost effective, healthy foods is crucial.”

Or residents can take food into their own hands with a home garden.

“You don’t have to have a huge backyard or farm or anything – you can start in a windowsill or even on a balcony and start with some herbs, or tomatoes, or some greens. That can help you with your food for the whole summer.”