Ever gone to the market, in a rush and picked up something only to notice after you get home that it had expired? Some stores when they restock shelves will move the newer item to the back and pull the soon to expire (sometimes expired) items to the front. Stores are not required by law to remove expired items.  Some states do have laws on certain food items and you would have to check with your state for this information.

They also use confusing terms; Sell By, Use By and Best By.  I will try to explain the difference, how long some things will last, how long to refrigerate or freeze certain foods. Although, I have a rule in my house regarding leftovers, if it has been there past 3 days, it gets tossed.

Sell By:  Is for the retailers to guide them as when it should be sold then removed from their shelves.  It does not mean the food has gone bad.

Use By:  Is the date that the manufacturer guarantees its product’s quality.  This means that the product is still fine to eat past that date but the peak period has passed.

Best By:  This is for the consumer that the food is good by the date listed and probably shouldn’t be consumed afterwards that it MAY cause you to get sick.

Did you know that food dates are not required by law?  The only products this is not true for is baby food and formula.

Canned goods usually have a long shelf life printed on the top of the can.  When purchasing canned good be sure the can is free of dents which could compromise the contents.

Ground meat, pork & poultry 1 to 2 days past the date
Poultry, all cuts 1 to 2 days past the date
Beef, all cuts 3 to 5 days past the date
Pork, all cuts 1 to 2 days past the date
Eggs 3 to 5 weeks past the date*
Milk and cream A few days, if it smells sour then it is bad

Also be sure to look at the labels, some foods must be consumed within a time period after being opened.   Pay close attention to some products that may have the print “Refrigerate After Opening” even though you may have bought it off the shelf.

*If you want to be sure if the eggs are still good, place the egg in a glass or deep bowl filled with water.  If the egg floats, it has gone bad and discard. If the egg stands upright, then air has permeated the shell and it should be consumed soon.  If the egg lays at the bottom, it is still safe to eat.