The expiration dates on many foods are often misunderstood, according to Better Nutrition, which aims to help people understand how to interpret “Best By” dates.
According to one research study, “only 46 percent of participants understood what a ‘Best If Used By’ label meant. Even worse, just 24 percent correctly interpreted a ‘Use By’ label.”
It might be a shock, but those expiration dates don’t actually indicate when food expires. It’s simply the manufacturer’s best estimate as to when that item will worsen in quality.
And in general, food manufacturers tend to underestimate these dates just to be on the safe side. When it’s time to decide to toss food items or not, you can think of these labels as suggestions rather than hard and fast rules.
Baby food is the only item that should be tossed when advised on the label.
Related: The Best Foods For Leftovers…
How do you know what an expiration date or date label means? Here is a simple rundown of the most commonly used labels.
When you see a “Sell By” date, it is actually for the store’s use and not yours. It’s designed to let them know when it’s time to take an item off the shelves. You do not have to worry about that date.
Best If Used By
This label, sometimes noted as “Best Before,” is meant to indicate when a product is at its best quality or flavour. You can safely enjoy the food past that date.
Utilized to indicate when a food is at its best quality. This means that it is fine to eat, but you might not get it at its most flavorful.
Commonly found on meats, this term is more of a recommended date by which to freeze your meat so it’ll stay at peak quality.