Effective Monday, July 19, 2021, the following NOH/OMG office locations will no longer provide on-site blood draws: Westlake, Lorain, Olmsted Falls and Dewhurst. Click here for the nearest lab service location.
We’ve all been there: You pour a bowl of cereal and take the carton of milk out of the fridge, only to notice the sell-by date was two days before. What do you do? Is the milk still safe to consume?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. But there are a few important things about sell-by dates you should know—and chances are, you’re throwing away food that’s still perfectly fine to eat.
1. They’re meant for stores—not consumers
A food sell-by date is meant to help stores know how long to display a product on their shelves. They aren’t federally regulated and generally have very little to do with whether a product is safe to consume.
2. Manufacturers set them
The same goes for best-by and use-by dates: They’re all set by manufacturers to let stores know when products will be at their peak quality.
3. Some foods can last weeks—or even months
Not only are many foods still safe to eat a few days after their sell-by date, many are still good weeks or even months later.
Think twice before you throw out these commonly wasted foods—they might still be perfectly safe.
Go ahead and enjoy your cereal: Milk can still be safe to drink for up to a week after the sell-by date. However, use your best judgment and don’t drink milk that smells “off” or has yellowed in color.
Go by your purchase date instead of a sell-by date. Fresh and raw eggs are usually good for three to five weeks after you bring them home.
3. Parmesan Cheese
If you’ve bought parmesan cheese that is commercially grated and packaged, it’s good for up to three months after the sell-by date.
Whether your butter has been opened or is still sealed, it can still last for a solid month after purchasing. However, you can always store extra sticks in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.
Assuming your yogurt hasn’t grown any mold, it should be safe to eat for up to 10 days past the sell-by date.
6. Sealed bacon and hot dogs
As long as you haven’t opened your package of bacon or hot dogs, you can still safely enjoy them for a week after their sell-by date.
Of course, it’s always best to use your judgment when consuming food that may be close to expiration—and it’s never worth risking illness if you aren’t sure. However, use the above list as a guideline to help avoid food waste and get more bang for your grocery buck.
Need recipe ideas for food before it goes bad? Check out our free, downloadable cookbooks!