The yogurt container says it expired five days ago. The can of soup’s use-by date was last October. Oops! Just because the package says your food should have been eaten by now doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe. Before you toss that food, learn what “sell by,” “use by” and “best by” all mean for your pantry—and find out which foods you can hang on to after those days pass.
What do the labels mean?
According to the USDA, the terms “sell by,” “use by” and “best by” mean different things:
Sell by: Retailers need to sell or remove the product by this date.
Use by: Consumers should probably eat the item by this date. If the date has passed, the product is often still safe, but the quality may be reduced.
Best by: The product’s quality is guaranteed until this date.