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How Long Can You Eat Your Food After Expiration Date?

Food expiration dates are like threatening work deadlines: They appear overhead, and if you are even a day late, you are in for it.

At times, food can be perfectly good a day, a week, a year, or even multiple years after the numbers and dates branded onto a package.

But the question that arises here is how do we really know if a food is actually safe to eat? It is difficult to determine the point when a food does not look and taste good and when it’s totally unsafe.

Sadly, there is no precise definition of an expiration date. In this case, we can surely trust our instincts. If something smells, tastes, feels or looks bad, then it probably is.

Looks and smells can sometimes be deceiving, which is why those expiration dates stamped on the packaging can guide you in the right direction and prevent illness.

In many cases, expiry dates are important indicators of how safe the food is to consume, but with some foods it is more of a guideline.

The date we find printed on products are the manufacturer’s suggestion for when the food is at its freshest, not when it is unsafe.

According to a recent study from the Department of Agriculture, every day the average American throws out nearly a pound of food.

9 out of 10 Americans waste food due to confusion over the expiration date – about $165 billion worth annually.

Food waste in America is the single largest compound found in landfills across the country and it do cost American families thousands of dollar a year.

There are plenty of reasons why good, usable food gets tossed – overstocked pantries, picky kids, or even leftovers that sit in refrigerators too long.

The major factor is the misconception about what all those dates on food package labels – “best if used by”, “sell by” and “use by” really mean

Each of the above phrases have different origins and implications. However, most of them are just quality warnings and not safety warnings.

Best if used by:

This refers merely to quality and not safety. This date is recommended for best taste, flavor or quality. It is not a safety date or purchase date.

Sell by:

This date is basically a guide for the retailers, so they know when to pull the item. The main concern is the quality if the item rather than whether it is spoiled or is on the verge of spoiling.

Sell by date is the last day the item is at its highest level of quality, but it will be edible for some time after as well.

Use by:

This is the last date advised for the use of the product while at the peak quality or at the best flavor. They are placed on products with very less regulation.

Quite often, we throw away food merely due to confusion. Confusion whether the product or food can still be eaten or should be thrown away?

Here is the list of 10 foods that you can eat past the expiration date.


It is considered as a dry and hard product that has to either get steamed or boiled to enjoy. Pasta contains no water and if it’s unopened it can last much longer than its shelf-life of 1-2 year.

Even cooked pasta lasts longer or about 2-3 weeks when kept in the refrigerator. At the same time, any pasta with odor should not be consumed.


It is the kind of food that does not always go bad after its expiration date. Hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Monterey Jack are consumable up to 10 months.

They are still alright to eat even after mold has started to appear. You can just cut the moldy parts and consume it.

You should throw it away if it smells too strong or is moldy all over.


You can eat stale bread as long as it does not smell spoiled or sour. Also, you can consume it even if it forms mold after cutting them.

Breads usually last past its expiration date and you can use stale bread for croutons or French toast. Keeping it in the fridge or freezer shall keep it good.


It can easily last 1-2 weeks past its sell-by date if unopened. Plain yogurt and those containing fruits can be eaten easily even past its expiration date.

However, if it smells odor, is moldy and do contain egg in it such as dessert or yogurt – based custard, then it should be disposed off immediately.


You can get away with eating these months after the expiration date. Since they are stored in a cool and dry place, they can last months after the sell-by date.

Cereals are okay to eat for up to six months past the expiry date. So don’t worry if you have stocked up cereals of your favorite brand.


The white stuff that sometimes covers older bits of chocolate isn’t mold and it is not at all unhealthy to eat.

It is called “chocolate bloom” and is actually a layer of sugar or fat and is completely safe to eat. So, you can eat it from one to two years with no worries.

Canned Food

We all look after how far is the expiration date from the purchase date while buying canned food.

They usually last one to four years. If kept in a dark and cool place, it can double the length of its shelf life.


Many researches have shown that by doing a floating test we can conclude whether it is safe to eat the egg or not.

If you put an egg in the water and if it starts to float, then it has gone bad. It is so because a floating egg has produced a large amount of gas in the egg.

If this is the case, you should avoid eating it all cost.


Potato chips may get stale past their expiration date same like bread but they are still completely safe to eat.

If they are sealed in a bag, they can still be eaten for few months past the expiration date. And in case they are in an open bag, they can be eaten for few weeks.


After spending huge amount of money on condiments like mayo, ketchup and jam and realizing it is about to get expired, it is so disheartening to throw them away.

We have a good news for you. They all are consumable after their sell-by dates. And in case they are open, give them the old sniff test to see if they are spoiled.

If condiments are unsealed, they can be stored for longer than the package date made you believe.

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