Decoded: Is Food Still Good Past Its Expiration Date?

Do you check the expiration date on the food you buy from the supermarket? Don’t worry if you don’t. It turns out that the expiration dates on the food don’t matter much.

If you have ever read the content on the packaging of food, you will find either a “best buy” or “use before” date mentioned on the pretty much every food item. We generally throw away or discard those foods which are past their expiration date. This is where we are making a mistake. That is because there is a lot of confusion about how to read the expiration dates on food. We don’t fully grasp the concept.

Food companies are not bound by law to mention these dates on food, so they have nothing to do with food safety. It is to guide both the customer and retailer about the freshness of food.

date expiry

How to understand food expiration dates?

Here we have each term mentioned at the back of the packaging decoded for you:

“Best Buy” indicates that the food will remain freshest and taste right by or before the mentioned date.

“Use by” is the last date of consumption before its taste and quality begin to deteriorate.

“Sell by” is mainly for grocers to manage sales and displays.


Even if an item has reached its expiration date, it does not mean you have to toss it in the garbage. It may still have not gotten worse. How can you check it? Smell it. If it already tastes foul, it has gone rogue otherwise you can use it. A packaged food is normally safe until spoilage bacteria has attacked it making it taste and smell funny.

However, you cannot ignore these dates in case of baby food and dairy products. The dates mentioned on baby cereals should be taken seriously. Some products like milk, cheese if not stored well can go bad even before their expiry date. Once you have opened a milk carton, you better use it before its “use by” date or else it will go bad.

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One way to store food even past their expiration date is by freezing them. Canned goods and shelf-stable items can also be used even after they have “expired” till the time they smell and taste fine.

Half of the world is not even able to afford meals. This is why you should not cause wastage of food by throwing them away. One way to do this is to not buy things in bulk. If you have extras, donate it to someone. Wasting food is harmful to both your pocket and planet.


Consume judiciously!




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