Is It Safe To Eat Past The Use By Date?
This depends on the type of food in question. Some types of food are safe to eat after the use-by date while others can be harmful. The latter can sometime be indicated by a change in smell or taste but not all the time so it is better to abide by the use-by date stated on food products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests looking for signs of spoilage to determine whether the food is really no longer safe to eat beyond the date it was put on sale. Do not Trust Smell Tests Food may appear to be looking and smelling good, even after the expiration date, but that does not mean it is safe to eat.
If the food still looks and smells fine to you, you are likely to be fine, especially if you are a few days away from the listed date. If the food is dated and it is past this date, it may no longer be uber-fresh, but is still safe to eat for some time, depending on the kind of food it is. Even if a food is past its best-by date on the box, it may still be perfectly fine, even fresh, depending on what is written on the label.
While checking your package is still essential, there are a fair number of foods for which date has no meaning. With the exception of fresh produce, which is sold unpacked, almost every food product is labeled with some kind of expiration date, giving consumers a sense of when it is supposed to be eaten.
Food expiration dates are for quality, not for safety, meaning eggs, milk, etc., are best eaten by the date listed on egg packets. Some types of expiration dates–whether denoted as Used By, Sold By, or Best By–are meant merely to be guidelines, not actually indicative of the safety of the food. Often, the expiration dates are guidelines and not hard rules, typically referring to the quality and not actual safety of food.
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It is difficult to know how long your food is still good after an expiration date has passed, and also every food is different. As you might have guessed, the time frame between an expiration date of some kind and the time that the food really goes bad is variable depending on the food itself and the way that the food is stored. As we established, most foods can safely be consumed up to various lengths after the date they were sold, however, this does not mean most foods do not go bad eventually.
|Is it okay to eat past the use-by date?||How to know that the food is no longer eatable?|
|It is perfectly fine to eat foods that past their best-by date. Actually it depends upon the type of food.||The most basic way is by smelling the food, if it smells bad then it is no longer eatable.|
|Packaged foods (cereals, pasta, cookies) are safe to eat beyond their best-by dates.||Also looking for signs of spoilage like moldy spots or bacterial growth on the food can tell it easily.|
Watch for foods approaching use-by dates, as well as other fresh foods that may expire in due time, and make an effort to use these sooner rather than later. Otherwise, be sure to store items in their original packaging so that they are dated, or be sure you have a good system of labels to ensure that you are cooking your chicken or other foods when they are at peak freshness. Keep track of these “use-by” dates, use those leak-proof containers well for pastries, and label frozen foods.
Many foods, including meats and milk, can still be frozen past their food use-by dates, so plan ahead. If a food can be frozen (meat, for instance), put it in the freezer before its expiration date. For sale-by dates past home, you may be able to keep food longer, depending on what it is.
Items are usually safe for eating past their sell-by date, but they can start losing their taste or visual appeal. Foods are generally safe if consumed past that date, but may have suffered from a loss of taste, texture, or appearance.
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Packaged foods (cereals, pasta, cookies) will be safe beyond their best-by dates, though packaged foods (cereals) can become stale eventually, or may have developed an off-flavor. Most packaged foods are safe to eat beyond their use by date, provided that they are stored in a cool, dry location and are kept in good condition, such as without dents or swelling. Some individuals on social media say most canned foods are still safe to eat years after the date printed on the box.
The best-by dates are only accurate when foods are stored according to label instructions, like keeping them in a cool, dry place, or keeping them in the refrigerator after opening. The first and most important thing to think about when it comes to food safety is if a food has a use-by or best before date. When it comes to eating a food past its best-by sold-by or whatever other date, there is not really any set hard-and-fast rule that you need to follow.
If you want to enjoy your food while it is still fresh, consume it before the best-by date, and be sure to follow any instructions. Once you have opened food that has a best by date, you will need to follow any instructions, too, like eating within one week of opening. Just because it is one to two days past its Use By does not mean eating the food is going to make you ill, though you do have to judge the quality of the food for yourself once it is been this long.
To help curb food waste, FSIS advises that, regardless of date, consumers should assess the quality of the food before choosing to eat or discard. While no two foods will have the exact same shelf life, when evaluating foods beyond the expiration date, trust your instincts. When in doubt, there are a number of resources online, such as this one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that can provide you with a general guideline of how long some foods may last beyond their expiration dates when stored correctly. If you are still unsure if a food or food item is worth saving beyond the expiration date listed on its label, the Food and Drug Administrations free app, FoodKeeper, can help you figure out how quickly specific items–everything from oatmeal to coconut milk to maple syrup–should be consumed if they are stored in your pantry, or how long they will last in your fridge after they are opened.
Many fresh or prepared foods are labeled with a sell-by date, which is a guide for how long an item should last if they are on display for sale before the quality goes bad. It is a commonly held misperception that the date printed on foods is an absolute deadline for when it must be eaten. None of those are intended as the foods safety dates (except for baby formula), but instead to describe quality. With processed foods that are not opened, such as cereals and chips, you may be able to get away with eating them months past their shelf life.
How strict are Use by dates?
Manufacturers use dates to represent when the product is at its best and only signify freshness. In other words, the food does not become inedible or expire. Foods over their expiration date may still be of acceptable quality and taste, and they may not even make people ill.
What happens if you eat past use by date?
The terms “sell by,” “use by,” and “best by” have multiple meanings, according to the USDA: By this date, retailers must either sell the item or remove it off their shelves. Use by: The food should generally be used by this time. Although the product may not be as safe if the expiration date has gone, it is usually still safe.