How long after the "best by" date

    will you hang onto a food product?  A few minutes going through cans and jars highlighted the fact that SOME stuff I've had since BEFORE I moved into my home (in 2010).  I filled the garbage can and still have two cupboards to investigate.

    But, the you keep things after the "best by" date; if so, what and for how much longer? 

    +6  Views: 1507 Answers: 5 Posted: 8 years ago

    5 Answers

    I think you and your readers would be better served by understanding fully the food labelling terms explained below. Please note that these are in use in the U.K but I expect they are similar in the U.S.

    Use by

    You will see "use by" dates on food that goes off quickly, such as smoked fish, meat products and ready-prepared salads. Don't use any food or drink after the end of the "use by" date on the label, even if it looks and smells fine. This is because using it after this date could put your health at risk. For the "use by" date to be a valid guide, you must follow storage instructions such as "keep in a refrigerator". If you don't follow these instructions, the food will spoil more quickly and you may risk food poisoning. Once a food with a "use by" date on it has been opened, you also need to follow any instructions such as "eat within three days of opening". But remember, if the "use by" is tomorrow, then you must use the food by the end of tomorrow, even if the label says "eat within a week of opening" and you have only opened the food today. If a food can be frozen its life can be extended beyond the "use by" date. But make sure you follow any instructions on the pack, such as "cook from frozen" or "defrost thoroughly before use and use within 24 hours". "Use by" dates are the most important date to consider, as these relate to food safety.

    Best before

    "Best before" dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. "Best before" dates are about quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture. Eggs have a shelf life of 28 days (from date laid to best before date). By law, eggs must reach the final consumer within 21 days from the date they have been laid. This date is known as the sell-by date. After this date, the quality of the egg will deteriorate and if any salmonella bacteria are present, they could multiply to high levels and could make a person ill. This means that eggs need to be delivered to the consumer at least seven days before the best before date. The consumer then has seven days to use the eggs at home. Eggs should be cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked such as a cake. Cooking eggs until both the white and yolk are solid will kill any bacteria, such as salmonella. People who are in "at-risk" groups should only eat eggs, or food containing eggs, that have been thoroughly cooked. These groups include:

    babies and toddlers, elderly people, pregnant women, and people who are already unwell.

    Every year in the UK we throw away 7.2m tonnes of food and drink, most of which could have been eaten. So think carefully before throwing away food past its "best before" date. Remember, the "best before" date will only be accurate if the food is stored according to the instructions on the label, such as "store in a cool dry place" or "keep in the fridge once opened".


    I trust nothing. Won't eat the yogurt even if still in date if it's only a matter of days.When I moved in at David's, I threw several POUNDS of outdated food. Remember the O.O.D. food we found in Queens?


    I certainly do! :(

    Meat is the main thing we throw out if we haven't used by its use by date, cheese we tend to keep longer, sauces and spices we don't worry about so much. My brother's wife tends to keep things for months, so when we go there to eat I always look at the date on bottles and jars . before I use the contents.





    I've been the same way, but I had dry stuff with 2007 on the bottom. I just tossed about everything that was more than 3 months past the best by date. Really gives me a lot of space. Not going to stock up on anything anymore.

    It depends on the product. Most things that I have past their expiration dates, are there because of my neglect; they were not used sooner. For those items past, I'll smell, and taste just a little bit. No good, then in the trash. Lately however, I've been buying a gallon of milk about every week, far in advance of the expiration date. They've gone sour about half-way through and I've returned them and received a full refund, no questions asked.


    We had that problem a couple years ago. Come to find out, the refrigerator wasn't working right, though freezer was fine. Had to buy a new fridge.

    Bob, I also had this problem! And had to replace frig, too!


    Sucks to be us sometimes! I hope you got a really nice one. Mine is stainless with water and ice dispenser on the front, but the ice melts a little, then freezes into a big ball and just "shaves" itself when someone tries to dispense it ...very messy and frustrating! I put a piece of cardboard between the ice holder and the tunnel, so no one can use it, but keep the ice cubes in a big bucket in the freezer, very easy to get. I got a good discount because the door handles were dented, but I'm OK with it. The dog and cat haven't complained!

    Hey Bob, i think it is up to each person and what food you are talking about,,long life milk has a long 'use before date;.however once it is opened it has a short life it varies with all foods and always add common sense..>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<..

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