I’ve been coming across a lot of ‘sell by:’, ‘use by:’, ‘expires on:’, and ‘best by:’. So I thought I’d do a little looking into it.
It started with all of our hand foam at work being expired… I mean ALL of it! They probably did some massive order back when we opened and it just hasn’t been used fast enough. So of course they went through and threw it all away and replaced it with new ‘un-expired’ hand foam. One clinic I work in had this hand gel that was my favorite. The foam is white and fluffy where as this gel was smooth and smelled really good. But it expired in April 09 and I refused to use it after that because I thought “well it’s not really killing all the germs” or is it??
Then when I went to put some itchy spray on my feet (not sure why my feet are itchy, Kyle took a look and says it’s not athletes foot or jock itch but I tried that spray stuff anyway) and noticed the spray was a year old. This has also happened to me with bug spray, sun screen and of course Neosporin. Who uses a whole tube of Neosporin before the expiration date? Not me… which is why I am very generous when I use that stuff now.
Disclaimer: okay I know home use is different from business use… we have guidelines to follow and people to please while at work… but my findings are more geared toward my own personal home use and not some drug I am needing to take to save my life… do as you please.
Okay back to my findings. I read a few articles (which I will provide you with the links below) and in one, found that 90% of the expired drugs they tested were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date! WOW really?? So I don’t have to throw out my expired triple antibiotic ointment?? It also stated that some drugs are always an exception: tetracycline (antibiotic to treat bacterial infections), nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel good about taking any prescription drug past the exp date…
Another article pointed out that expiration dates are put on medications as more of a safety net for manufactures and consumers, the date given is proof the drug will work in that said time period. After that date, it doesn’t mean the drug is ineffective or harmful, just that is their recommendation or that is as long as they wanted to test it's effectiveness. I also read some speculation that over-the-counter meds use expiration dates to get people to buy more of their product… dang it they caught me! I mean a tube of Neosporin could last years… this isn’t good for business, now is it?
So I’ve learned that I don’t have to be scared to use hand sanitizer the day after it expires, I’m going to keep using the itch spray until it runs out (it’s almost empty), and no need to throw out a month old tube of Neosporin.
While digging around for drug expiration info I did come across this food expiration article: