8 Foods You Can Safely Eat Past Their Use-By Date
Don't toss those eggs yet! Just because the use-by date has passed, they're still safe to eat. Here's the list.
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.
Photo: Shutterstock / Africa Studio
Which foods are still OK to eat?
Now that you know the difference between all those too-similar labels, check out this list of foods that are A-OK to enjoy after their dates have passed.
In many cases, eggs reach the retailer just dates after the hen lays them. If the carton has a pack date with a USDA grade shield, it will have a three-digit code which represented the consecutive day of the year, starting with Jan. 1 as 001 and Dec. 31 as 365. The eggs should not exceed 30 days from the date of the pack.
Have some eggs to use up? We’ve got egg recipes by the dozens.
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If you don’t see mold, bread is safe to eat. You can store it in the freezer to extend its life.
Need to revive stale bread? Here’s our guide.
The life of your canned goods, such as soups and vegetables, can be extended if stored in a cool, dark area. If you’ve got canned beans about to reach their expiration date, try some of these recipes to use them up.
Pasta does not spoil easily. Stored properly in a cupboard or pantry, it’s totally safe to use after its expiration date. Left too long, it may lose some flavor, but you can compensate with an amazing sauce.
When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, if it smells, is mushy or has visible signs of rot or mold, toss it or cut out the affected spots. If it doesn’t show any symptoms of spoilage, it should be safe to use—just get to using these tasty fresh finds quick!
Many frozen foods, such as frozen pizzas and vegetables, are safe after the expiration date. If meat was purchased and frozen, its expiration period shouldn’t exceed more than 50 percent.
Those bags of chips, boxes of crackers and packaged cookies should be tossed if they smell funky or are stale. However, if you come across a package of unopened chocolate chip cookies that are a few weeks past that best-by date, they’re still safe to enjoy!
Now that you know which dates are OK to fudge, you can go ahead and keep them just that little extra bit longer.