Every year a lot of food and money is wasted because food is thrown out when it is actually still good. When you read the expiration, use-by or sell-by date do you know what they really mean?
- Best if used by and use-by date – The product should retain maximum freshness, flavor and texture if used by this date.
- Expiration date – If you have not used the product by this date, throw it out.
- Sell-by or pull-by date – This date is used by manufacturers to tell grocers when to remove their products from the shelves, but there is still some leeway for usage.
- Guaranteed fresh – Used for perishable baked goods. Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed although it may still be edible.
- Pack date – This is the date the item was packed, most-used on canned and boxed goods.
Dating on packaging is not required by US federal law, except for infant formula and baby foods. Stores are also not legally required to remove outdated products from their shelves. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you are shopping and at home:
- When buying foods, always check expiration dates in the store. There is nothing more frustrating than getting home to find the ingredient you need has already expired.
- Always buy the items on the back of the shelf, because they are fresher.
- Most canned goods can be stored for up to a year, except citrus fruits, fruit juices, pickles, peppers, sauerkraut, green beans, asparagus, beets, and all tomato products which should be used within 6 months.
- It may seem obvious, but always trust your eyes and nose. If it looks or smells bad, throw it out!