“Can I Eat This?” The Truth About Expiration Date Meanings

The first thing you should know is something that can be boiled down to one sentence. Expiration dates (with minimal exceptions) do not refer to the safety of a product at all. “Sell by” dates are primarily a dialogue between stores and manufacturers and producers. It refers to when an item is to be removed from shelves for reasons of quality control, not safety. That means, it’s not going to hurt you, but it’s a way the company can control for best taste. If you see “Best by”, it’s a similar message to you. It means that is the date at which taste quality begins to decline, not that it is unsafe. For more distinctions, read this great summary from WebMD. If you’re dealing with something like milk after the date, just take a small taste or look at the consistency. If it’s bad, throw it out. If it’s clearly still the same, don’t waste.
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