top of page

Is Food Safe Past Its Expiration Date?

As a general rule, most American's have been taught to throw away any food that is past their expiration date. But is that really true, or are certain foods still safe after the expiration date? One huge source of confusion is the labeling. Products contain a variety of phrases including: "Use By", "Sell By" and "Best By". In fact, only infant formula, certain baby foods and dairy products from certain states have a firm expiration date in the U.S. Surprisingly, the "Use By", "Sell By" and "Best By" date labels on food in the U.S. were created to help grocers rotate food stock and not for food safety.

According to an article on this topic, "Best By: Refers to the last day to use the product when quality and taste will be highest. It’s always set by the food manufacturer and has no correlation to safety.

Sell By: Lets the store know when to pull food off the shelf. It is a guideline (and it may even be in the producer’s interest to make this time period brief) and has nothing to do with safety or even how tasty the food is.

Best if Used Before: This moniker refers only to food flavor, texture, or perceived quality. Producers label their foods with this date to avoid having a customer buy a product that may be slightly off in flavor, texture, color, etc. and associate it with the brand."

Since we are discussing the topic of food safety, here are some notes about food safety/things to avoid so you don't become ill:

  • Eating deli food long after the expiration date.

  • Eating other prepared foods that are left at out at room temperature and not refrigerated.

  • Eating cooked foods have been left out on the counter for more than two hours, or for one hour if the air temperature is more than 90 degrees.

Additionally, it is important to know the signs of spoilage in can foods:

  • Bulging can or lid or a broken seal.

  • Any signs of corrosion.

  • Can where food has seeped out under the lid.

  • Gas, which you can identify if you see bubbles move upward when you open the jar.

  • Food appearing moldy, cloudy or mushy.

For additional information, please refer to the referenced article. Additionally, if you have a medical condition or concerns, always check with your doctor.


1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page