Friday, April 8, 2011

Difference between sell-by date and an expiration date

What's hiding in your fridge

I remember growing up cleaning the fridge was my sister's and I's least favorite job. I mean my mom was a good house keeper, but there was always bound to be something left in a tuperware container a little too long, or some vegetable shoved to the back of the fridge long after it should have been consumed, and I may or may not have been guilty of drinking milk out of the cartoon a day after that expiration day. I mean it didn't kill me.

photo courtesy of © 
Disclaimer: This is not my fridge. 

So what is the difference between the sell-by date and an expiration date? How far can we push the limit. Lisa Abraham, Beacon Journal food writer explained the difference and this is what I learned.

1. Sell-by date and an expiration date are not the same. Sell-by date is used by the store, to let their employees know how long the product should be offered for sale. You should buy before the sale-by date, but your food will be good after that date, at least for a couple days.
According to standards established by the Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA, poultry, ground meat, organ meat and sausage, if kept properly refrigerated, will be good for up to two days beyond the sell-by date; beef, veal, pork or lamb, three to five days; and cured meats like ham, five to seven days. Eggs typically will stay fresh for three to five weeks after the sell-by date.
If we are talking about baked goods we are looking at three days after the sell-by date, and that's if they were properly refrigerated. I'm not really sure what that means for the loaf of bread on my counter.

2. Let's talk about the expiration date. They are little more important. The expiration or use-by date is a manufacture's date, and the product should be consumed by this date or pitched. Stick by these dates, or you might find yourself with a tummy ache.

3. And lastly, the best-by date. This is a date, which again the the manufactures have set, and the product will be at its high quality level. So those cans of tomato soup will last forever, however you might see a little difference in taste if you wait too long.

Who's going to run over to the fridge or pantry and start checking dates?


  1. Good post! I am one of those people who pitch on the day it is supposed to go! Leftovers do not stay but a few days then they are out also. Hate the thought of old food!

  2. Love the post! I know as college student my eyes always seem a bit bigger in the grocery store. I need to calm down on my over buying and watch those important dates!



Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear from all my readers. Hope you have a fabulous day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...