What Do Food Expiration Dates Really Mean?

Ever wonder if you can still eat that bread, canned soup or frozen package of meat?  There are a lot of different types of expiration dates out there.  Some are pretty straightforward and some give you a little leeway when it comes to how long you can keep it on a shelf before you eat it.  Here is a breakdown of those terms to help you out:


Use-By Date (or expiration date): is the clear concise date you have to eat your food by.  If you don’t, it is no longer considered safe.

Best-Before or Best-By Date: is an estimate and usually found on things like Cereal, Snacks, Frozen Foods… You can usually eat food past the Best-Before Date and be fine.

Sell-By Date: is the date that is used for store and manufacturer purposes to help with inventory control. It is a date to help stores know when to have the food sold so that consumers have plenty of time to eat the product before its actual expiration date. In all honesty, it shouldn’t even be shown on packaging because it confuses consumers.

Baked-on Date: is the day the food was actually made.  Typically, you have 7 days to eat it safely before it starts to go bad.

The more you know the less you waste.  So before you start throwing out perfectly good food, make sure you remember these different expiration date terms and see if your food really is expired or not.

Big thanks to Freebies2Deals for this info 🙂


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