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Food Past the “Sell By” Date? You Might Not Have to Toss It

A woman looking at the expiration date on the back of a container of food.
goodluz/Shutterstock

Ever ventured into the recesses of your fridge and found foods way beyond their expiration dates? You probably immediately throw them away, but you might not have to do that with everything.

Of course, if it’s been weeks and something smells funky, or there’s mold growing on it, yeah—get rid of that yuckiness immediately. However, if you’re only taking the use-by date into account, some of those items you’ve been tossing could still be totally edible.

According to NBC’s Dallas Forth Worth affiliate, food labels aren’t always reliable. The outlet spoke with Linda Harris, a food research scientist, who explained that the date on your food is in relation to the item’s quality. It doesn’t mean you’ll get a gnarly case of food poisoning if you eat it.

The date is when that item will reach its peak freshness. In fact, according to NBC, expiration dates aren’t required on anything but baby formula. This is why you’ll see so many different terms, including “use by,” “sell by,” or “sell before” on your food.

If that date is long gone, then, obviously, you’ll want to have something else for dinner. Just use your best judgement, and check for any odd smells, discoloration, or weird growth. If it looks good and the expiration date was just a few days ago, it might be just fine.

[Via Apartment Therapy]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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