Save money by fudging expiration dates

Posted by Christi Reynard email

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Before you check out at the grocery store, you could be replacing food that's perfectly fine.

Nutrition experts say the average American family throws out $600 of food a year, all because they're throwing away food on or just after the stamped expiration date. But those dates can be deceiving.

The USDA reports there is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the US. There are areas of the country where much of the food supply has some type of open date and other areas where almost no food is dated.

So what do the dates mean?

A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.

A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

But the food you buy may still be good, even after their posted dates. They're not a safety dates. After the date passes, while not of best quality, the product should still be safe if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below in your refrigerator. says the following can be still safe days even months after their expiration dates:

-Milk: 7 days;

-Yogurt: 7-10 days;

-Cottage Cheese: 10-14 days;

-Eggs: 3-5 weeks;

-Mayonnaise: 3-4 months after opening.

Dietician Stacy Buzan says you still want to double check food, even if it's within the safe zone after the expiration date.

Her rule of thumb is, especially with smell, when in doubt, throw it out!

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