Have you ever noticed the dates printed on some of the foods you buy? They are there to help you decide how fresh the food is.
Not all foods are dated. Expiration dates are usually found on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. "Closed" or "coded" dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.
There are three types of dates.
- A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
- A "Best if Used By” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
Some General Guidelines
Milk - Use within 5 days of the "sell by" date or use within a day or two of the “use by” date. After this, the milk may begin to sour even if it's not dangerous.
Chicken and Fish - Use within 1 or 2 days, or freeze and use within 3 to 6 months.
Eggs - Eggs should last for 3 to 5 weeks after the "sell by" date.
Canned Goods - If you have canned foods that are high acid, (like tomato soup or pineapple), can last for 18 months. Other canned goods with low acid, like vegetables, can last up to 5 years.
These are guidelines to help you make good choices at the grocery store. If you are not sure about the safety or quality of food, don’t buy it. And remember--never taste a food to see if went bad. Most bacteria are odorless and clear in color. Remember; when in doubt, throw it out!