Published: Sep 20, 2013 10:33 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 20, 2013 10:50 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, FL.--A new report shows Americans trash $165 billion worth of expired food every year-- that's perfectly safe to eat.

For a lot of you, it's a constant debate at home; what to keep and what to toss.

"If it is slimy and starts to smell--I'm done," said Nancy Regan.

Regan follows "the law" when it comes to those pesky little expiration dates on her groceries.
     
"If it's like mustard and it gets that hard crust around the top--it is history," said Regan.

But Nancy's husband goes about things a little differently.

"He's not going to throw it out, he is going to say there is nothing wrong with it," she said.

According to a new Harvard Law School report, more than 90% of Americans prematurely throw away groceries because they see the expiration labels as indicators of food safety.

"It is literally throwing dollars in the garbage," said registered dietitian, Betsy Opyt.

Opyt says most of the time that expiration label is only to get you to eat the food when it's thought to taste it's best.

"That is why they put an expiration at a certain date just for the quality of the food instead of the actual safety of the food," said Opyt.

Opyt also says even foods like yogurt, eggs and pickles are still perfectly fine to eat, weeks after their considered expiration date.

"People say expired, and it's really best if used by, and most of this stuff is still good years after and if not months after," said Harry Chapin Food Bank CEO Al Brislain.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank also keeps canned goods for years after their expiration date, that way..they are able to feed more people.

"The technology is so good these days that it is really extended the shelf life of the foods that we eat," said Brislain.