Americans Throw Out $2,200 Worth of Food Each Year

ABC News goes inside the refrigerator to explore ways to save you money.
2:17 | 09/10/13

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Transcript for Americans Throw Out $2,200 Worth of Food Each Year
team is back. Looking in your refrigerator to save money. American families throw away up to $2200 worth of food every year, much of the time relying on those expiration dates. Abc's cecilia vega set to bring back real answers about what those dates mean. Reporter: We all do it. Open the fridge, and wonder if the food past its prime is safe to eat. We took our questions to jena roberts, one of the top food safety experts at the national food lab. Turns out, if you think you have to throw out the food in your fridge because the expiration dates have passed, think again. I don't think that we can really pinpoint a single food safety incident that happened because a food product was past its date. Reporter: The only food that federal law says must have a use by date is infant formula. Some states also have their own rules on dates for foods like milk. But the rest of the dates are voluntary. Put there by manufacturers to tell you when the food tastes best, not when it's going to make you sick. The "use by," the "sell by", the "code dates," the "best buy" dates, those are all there for quality reasons. They are not there for safety reasons. Reporter: Jena and I paid a visit to the teichera near san fransisco to get real answers about the more important dates in their fridge. Eggs, you can make that omelet UP TO THREE WEEKSst PA THE DATE On the carton. Just make sure you cook them all the way through. As for meat, she says toss it by the date on the package unless it's frozen. All those condiments? Keep them. Bacteria isn't going to grow in them. As for the pantry with all those dry and processed foods -- the use by date or the sell by date is anywhere from six months to two years out. Reporter: Good news for jennifer who gets to keep the crackers in her pantry and a few dollars in her wallet. Cecilia vega, abc news, livermoore, california. You can go to abcnews.Com to get the full list of foods you can eat or should throw out once they're past their use by dates.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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