Those food date labels may not be as cut and dry as imagined:
- "Best if Used By/Before" indicates best flavor or quality. It is not a safety date.
- "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.
- "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula*.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), foods are still safe for consumption after these expiration dates pass, but make sure to look out for an off odor, flavor, or texture that mean the food has spoiled and should not be eaten.
*For more information about food date labelling and specific information about infant formula, visit the USDA Food Product Dating Fact Sheet.