Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Apr 28, 2008 05:05 AM

Use By/Sell By

So my daughter rises at the crack of noon yesterday, makes herself a coffee and gets worried about the Half and Half because the sell by or use by was a day or so ago. I told her I had just used it and it was fine and to use the old fashioned method of nose and taste buds.

Which led me to think is it these arbitrary dates that cause waste? Not only in our kitchens but at the supermarket level where they are required to throw out food gone past the date even if it is not spoiled. Think of all that food, packaging and effort needed for a foodstore to get rid of it. I grew up in the days where you made your own decisions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. smartie, thanks to those here, I'm still using yogurt that is now out of date because I bought too much but it's still fine.

      We also just used up two half gallons of milk that stayed 'good' in their time line when some others don't.

      Look at the date on eggs! If I threw them out when their date was up, I would not have any eggs in the fridge.

      Yes, bottom line is that common sense and one's nose and eyes should dictate the expiration dates.

      I recently found, waaaay back in the fridge, a jar of cherries in liquor that my mother made for me. I hadn't looked at the date she wrote on the jar, until I saw the rust on the lid. She made them in 1997 -- no, I didn't eat them!

      Now THAT'S expired.........

      3 Replies
      1. re: dolores

        can yogurt last 27 days after sell by date

        1. re: mrreliz7

          If it has not been opened it can last much longer than that. Once opened it just depends on how cold it has been kept and the hygiene used when handling it.

        2. re: dolores

          If they were in vodka they are still just fine. They've been refrigerated and the alcohol has them preserved as well.

        3. The dates aren't arbitrary, they're guidelines for the way the vendors or manufacturers expect the food to be stored before and after it's sold. How long it really lasts for depends on how you stored it. To use an extreme example if you buy a loaf of bread and freeze it right away and eat it toasted from frozen two slices at a time you'll be eating it a week after the "best by" date and it will be fine. Same with milk if your fridge is really cold, but not if you left it in you car while you shopped for other things.

          1. Yep, there is CYA element to these dates. We all have to be smart on how we store and handle foodstuffs. I am happy that the dates exist, for decision-making upon purchase, but the subsequent storage is up to me.

            I am distressed, however, with the waste that comes along with dating and regulations. I don't yet have an opinion. Any of you have one (or a dozen :-) )?


            3 Replies
            1. re: cayjohan

              yes it was the waste I was considering not whether the goods are ok or not to consume.

              1. re: smartie

                smartie, if you (not "you,", but metaphorically) look at your cream container or cottage cheese carton, and notice that it's a day past the "by," and you throw it away and buy another, what do you have? A customer buying more. While I stand by the CYA liability aspects, I think there is built-in self-life stated on packaging that has nothing to do with ACTUAL shelf-life for many products.

                Yet more waste.


                1. re: smartie

                  For goods that have an expiry, companies do stability studies. The expiry is based on the shortest amount of time that the product will be last under the storage conditions outlined on the package. Other factors can affect it, but the expiry should be considered a minimum.

                  However, many of the factors you just have to guess at. You don't know how well it was handled during shipping or in the store, for example.

                  Use your best judgment, but it's not guaranteed that it will either be good up until the exp. date or bad a week past it.

                1. re: Janet

                  LOL! That reminds me of my all-time favourite Sally Forth comic strip, the one where she puts some leftovers into a tupperware into the fridge and Hilary says why are you putting that away? and Sally says because I can't throw out perfectly good food, to which Hilary says well you're just going to leave it there until it turns green and throw it out anyway. To which Sally says yeah but then it's not perfectly good food...