Eat by Date – How long does Food last?

IMG from “Food expired? Don’t be so quick to toss it” by Alexandra Sifferlin on

It may come as a shock, but printed food dates are not federally regulated and do not refer to food safety. Thus, it is usually safe to eat your “expired” food after its printed date has passed. This article helps you determine what’s in a “use by”, “best before”, “best by” or “sell by” date to help you break away from the food date myth. Utilize the shelf life resource and stop throwing out perfectly good food.

Definitions of Popular Food Dates

Best Before Date – The “Best Before Date” is, according to the manufacturer, the last date by which a products flavor or quality is best, the optimal time of its shelf life for quality. The product may still be enjoyed after the “best before date.” Additionally the manufacturer may call this the “Best if Used By” date or the “Best By” date, which indicates that the quality of food might diminish after that date, but it is still good to eat and the shelf life is still active.

Use By Date – The “Use By Date” is the last day that the manufacturer vouches for the product’s quality. The use by date is the date the manufacturers recommend to use the product for “peak quality” in the food. So you may eat the food after the use by date, but it likely is not going to be at peak quality.

Sell By Date – The “Sell By Date” on a product is the items expiration date, the end of its shelf life at the store. This is the last date stores are supposed to display the product for sale, after the Sell By Date the stores should remove the product, the Shelf Life has expired. Although the food product may be used and enjoyed past this date, it is not recommended to purchase a product if the Sell By date has past.

Shelf Life – The “Shelf Life” of food is used in reference to these common codes (Use by Date, Sell by Date, and Best Before Date). The Shelf Life depends on which code is used and the type of product in question. Please see the specific page for your product to determine the proper shelf life of food because the Shelf Life is different for each particular item!

Don’t Throw Out Your Food!

All foods, except infant formula, have a life beyond their printed date, whatever the manufacturer has chosen to call the date. Read through the pages of your favorite foods at Eat By Date so you can make informed decisions both at home and at the store. Don’t be scared to purchase the reduced priced food simply because the date has passed, it will taste great and save you cash. Additionally, while it is best to use your groceries in a first in – first out matter, don’t be bound to printed dates. The packaged food will last well beyond its best by date, use by date and sell by date, so learn to take advantage of the extra time with the tips on what to do with foods about to expire sections.

132 Pounds of Wasted Food Each Month

A new study by Reuters has found that, on average, Americans throw away 33 pounds of food each month, meaning that the average family of 4 produces 132 pounds of wasted food each month! In terms finances, that is about $160 a month going straight to the garbage. Additionally, this study found 40% of food harvested in America goes to the landfill. While a good amount of this food has surely gone bad, we have no doubt that many Americans are throwing out perfectly good food simply because of the misconception on the printed date. We hope this article can help you reduce the waste, help the environment and start saving money. Please see “Save Money and the Environment by Decreasing Food Waste” blog post from Eat By Date to find more on this issue.

Average Shelf Life of Foods you can eat past the expiration date

If you’re tired of wasting good food, the LA Times lists foods that can be eaten past the expiration date, if properly stored. With help from experts and product manufacturers, Real Simple has compiled a guide to expiration dates. These dates are offered as a rough guideline. The shelf lives of most products depend upon how you treat them. Edibles, unless otherwise indicated, should be stored in a cool, dry place. (With any food, of course, use common sense).

Just to name a few, the list continues…

Things you should never use past their expiration date

The way that a particular food looks or smells can be a good indicator of its safety but it’s better to discard some foods when they pass their expiration date regardless of their appearance or odor.

Food expired? Don’t be so quick to toss it by Alexandra Sifferlin on
• The Big Myth: Food Expiration Dates posted by Cindy on Eat By Date
• 10 foods you can eat past the expiration date by Jenn Harris on LA Times
• 77 Surprising Expiration Dates by Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith on Real Simple
• 8 Things You Should Never Use Past Their Expiration Date on The Daily Meal

Much more information:
• Date Labelling on Pre-packaged Foods on Canadian Food Inspection Agency
• Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter? on WebMD
• Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention? on Still Tasty
• How much food is wasted in total across the UK? on Love Food Hate Waste
• Food Waste in America on End hunger


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