Have you ever found something in the back of your pantry and seen that the best by date was just one week ago and you’re not exactly sure if you should still eat it? Well here are definitions by the USDA as to what those confusing ‘use by,’ ‘sell by,’ and ‘best buy’ dates mean and hopefully this will help you the next time you find yourself confused as to whether you should toss something out or still safely consume it.
- Best if used by/before: not a purchase or safety date. Indicates when the product will be at best quality and taste. You can still safely eat the product once this date passes.
- Sell by: Not a safety date. This just tells the store how long to display the product for inventory management.
- Use by: Not a safety date. (unless its baby formula then it is a safety date) This states the last day that the product will be at best quality and taste.
It is up to you, the consumer, if you want to eat the product once it is past the best by or use by date, but just know that it could still taste perfectly normal once the date passes. And it is safe to eat also since these are not safety dates (unless you see mold, or it has a bad odor).
If you want to read further information about the process and requirements of food dates, take a look at the USDA website that is linked right below!