What Do Packaging Dates Mean?
“Sell by” means the store should sell the product by the printed date, but the product still can be safely eaten by the consumer. “Best if used by” means the consumer should use the product by the date listed for best quality and flavor (not for safety reasons). “Use by” or “Expires” means the product should be used by consumers by the date listed; you are likely to see a marked deterioration in product quality and safety after that date.
The Real Shelf Life of Food Products
Today’s practices of processing and adding preservatives to most foods commercially manufactured food significantly extends the life of food products. The following chart outlines the life of many basic foods. Always use your best judgment to determine the safety of consuming any foods, and remember “If in doubt, throw it out’.