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What Foods have You Eaten That Were Past The 'Best By' or 'Expired Date'

  • t

I almost always eat something which has past the best by or expired date. Most of the time it's items like Peanut Butter, canned tuna but, lately, I've used dry yeast that expired in 2004, it was fine. Always eggs, cream cheese that had best by about a month ago and a couple of weeks ago Nyquil that expired in 2011 all with no issues at all. Oh, and that's not to mention when I was in the military, I ate C-Rations that were about 40 years old, and am living to tell about it.

How about you what food items do you eat that have best by or expired dates that have long past.

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  1. I actually shop on a regular basis at a scratch and dent store that has items that can be up to a year out of date. Once it hits the one year mark they can still sell it but it must be marked "not for human consumption". I have never gotten sick. I do watch the dates and won't buy certain expired things like taco shells and tortillas because the oils can go rancid. But, in general none of the canned goods and boxed rices etc are off limits to me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: suzigirl

      You bring up a good point, when I was a kid all we could afford were veggies out of cans, I don't believe they had any dates on the cans. My the good old days!

      1. re: treb

        You mean the days when packages could just be opened and didn't have three safety seals on them? Ahh, those were the days...

      2. re: suzigirl

        I once found an old package of taco shells at my parents' house. Oh my were they awful.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Taco shells have either lard or oil in them which will turn rancid.

      3. If it smells OK and nothing seems off, I don't even look at the date. The only time I do is when I open something and it seems fowl. I probably should pay more attention.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fldhkybnva

          So how do you know when the fish sauce is off? Or the durian??

        2. I'm still using raisins that are half a year past their best before date. I get a bit anxious each time I use them, but I can't bring myself to throw out the entire bag.

          ...It's a big bag.


          3 Replies
          1. re: NancyChin

            Plus they're dried, how much can go wrong. I have dried cranberries that are way past best y date.

            1. re: treb

              Thanks for the reassurance. I will use them all up! (Eventually)

            2. re: NancyChin

              raisins? no problema with "expiration" really -- they just get harder. if you are cooking with them, just give them extra moisture and time.

            3. I had a tube of tomato paste I just finished off that I bought on a trip to Italy 3 years ago. I opened it soon after arriving home from that trip and kept it in the fridge. Not sure what the "use by" date was, but I am sure it was up.

              1. Yogurt as long as the top wasn't distended. I usually do any canned goods, I've kept eggs for months and eaten them to no ill effect. Box juices too.

                As long as it smells ok, the package isn't bulging or have a fur coat, should be good. :)

                4 Replies
                1. re: bdachow

                  Most Greek Yogurt has a 2 month +/- best by date when I buy it in the store.

                  1. re: treb

                    I've eaten Chibani Greek yogurt that was 4 months beyond its date. It was fine.

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      I just ate some Chobani today that had a date of Dec 2013. Plan on doing the same tomorrow.

                  2. re: bdachow

                    I thought the deal with the expiration date on yogurt was that is generally when the benefits of the beneficial bacteria start to wane.

                  3. I happened to eat some "not-the-good-kind-of-mold" moldy Cheddar a few months ago. The residual taste after 4 bites was quite nauseating.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Some cheese mold is good but, I always trim it. I shutter when folks just throw these cheeses away. After trimming, the cheese has a better flavor.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        yeah I know what you mean.I had a small block of medium chedder that had I guess a green mold on it so I made sure to cut atleast a 1/4" off each side.Rinse the knife with water with each cut helps to remove any mold on the knife.The cheese in the middle was fine and fresh.Now I buy a log of medium and cut it in to 1/4 and either freezer bag it or double bag ziplock sqeezing out all the air you can and then freeze it.That way I only have a small piece that can go bad

                      2. As long as the color looks OK, and it smells good, I'm fine. With oily things I smell and take a nibble to be sure they don't have that rancid taste, but otherwise, fine.
                        I have a second refrigerator in my basement, which is opened much less frequently (and so food stays fresher) than the fridge in the kitchen.

                        I find that food stays good a long, long time. I've kept unopened sour cream, yogurt and juice for months and they were as good as fresh bough.
                        having said all that, I'm obsessive about checking dates when I buy things, and always try to buy food with the latest dates. That often means reaching far back for a container of milk or juice. I understand that store managers want to sell the oldest stuff first so they put it up front, but I always check. At Costco I look in 4 or 5 batches of produce before making a decision.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: helou

                          I do the same thing. I look produce/food with dates that reflect the freshest//earliest dates. I also forgot to mention dry pasta, most of mine are most likely way past their best by date.

                          1. re: helou

                            Eep. I do the same thing by reaching into the back for the latest expiry date. But I always look left and right to make sure grocery staff are not watching!

                            1. re: helou

                              Haha I don't bother at trader joes anymore because I always see them stocking from the front. When I asked an employee why one time she said it's because they have so much turnover and showed me that both dates were the same. If also noticed sometimes the items in the front are one or two days "newer" than the items in the back.

                              I guess in your particular case, I don't really understand the point of buying the latest date if you have a pattern of letting things get past the date before consuming anyway. Wouldn't it make more sense to just eat what you have before buying more of the same?

                            2. Mustard. I can't understand why mustard even has an expiration date. Most things I go by the sight/smell rather than the sell by date.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: gourmanda

                                So true, I think I finally finished a container from Costco which must have been years old.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  I just took a look at my relish jar in the refrigerator, it's as old as a toddler, good as the day I bought it. This has got me thinking of how much food we potentially waste, has to be a large volume, not to mention the dollars. Maybe it's hot dogs tonight!

                                  1. re: treb

                                    speaking of hotdogs I was thinking of canned chili.Ever buy a few cans and open one to see it was a very dark color but still good?

                              2. Dry yeast seems to last forever, refrigerated. Expiration dates are arbitrary & usually mean very little. I don't pay attention to them. If a food looks & smells OK I'll generally give it a try.Haven't got sick once! I once kept a package of Hostess Halloween Cupcakes in my desk @ work for a year. They were fine. Correctly canned foods last many years.

                                1. This thread cracks me up.

                                  I;ve got friends and foodie friends that toss leftovers if not eaten in three days and tosses anything past the expiration date.

                                  Myself, on the other hand, buys mayonaisse in the 40oz jar and is usually 9 months to a year past its "so-called" experiation date when finished.
                                  I;ve never had a problem. Never.

                                  I was using up some 2 or three year old canned plain tomato sauce last month and did notice a "tinny " taste when sampling when opening, but once cooked in swiss steak for a long time, the taste was absent.

                                  I just opened a new bottle of Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce that was a year past it's expiration date and was just as yummy as new.

                                  I have found canned and jarred green chilis and jalapeno chilis can loose thier firmness and get mushy over time, but normally canned goods keep very well.

                                  Seals portions/tubs/containers of yogurt will keep several years in the fridge.

                                  Your nose knows. And your taste buds and your "gag reflex" are always there to play wingman. LOLZ.

                                  I can only imagine the food that gets wasted due to dates and unnecessary food illness fears.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                    Heck, most sauces I make taste better 2 to 3 days out.

                                  2. A lot of dairy products, because you can tell by smell if it's edible. Eggs too. Bread - because I only use it for toast, so it's kept in the fridge.

                                    Red meat and chicken - they all tend to smell, look and feel different when they are off (in their raw state) - I'm far more cautious about eating cooked, reheated leftovers than I am about cooking "clean" smelling raw food that's over the magical date.

                                    Fish - well, I don't like stuff that isn't fresh anyway, unless it's smoked/cured/pickled.

                                    Pickles and condiments - once again, if nothing is growing in it, if it doesn't smell bad, I'm not throwing it away. I'll eat it eventually.

                                    Case in point - a friend gave me a kilner jar of fancy 'artisnal' grain mustard with chilli and honey as a house warming present 14 months ago. It's been sitting on my kitchen bench ever since, with a bit used here and there - a bit in a sandwich, a spoonful in a cream sauce, a bit in a salad dressing. I like it, but it's just not the "every day" mustards that I would use.

                                    It was this morning that I read the label - "once the seal is broken, use within a week". Oops. Oh well. Not sick.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: ultimatepotato

                                      I agree, mustard is probably bullet proof!

                                      1. re: ultimatepotato

                                        bread stales faster in the fridge. freezing is better.
                                        toast from frozen! easy, quick, better.

                                      2. Mustard, bread (stored in fridge, which I'm guessing is why it always outlives it's best by date) and soft flour tortillas. My tortillas always seem to last so much longer than the best by date. I'm very sketchy about dairy products. I would probably only attempt to use them if they were only a few days past their best by date.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: SaraAshley

                                          mustard has an expiration date? LOL -- not in my house!!!

                                        2. It probably comes as no surprise to you but there are almost no food items - fresh or packaged - that I actually heed the "best by" or "use by" dates.

                                          There is, however, one item where I would not recommend using any time past 6 months of the "best by" date.

                                          Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Is it the chemicals in the soda?

                                            1. re: treb

                                              Probably. I think the sugar substitutes degrade.

                                              It tasted like rancid club soda.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                It's the worst! My dearly departed mother would always lay in a big supply for holidays and of course it wouldn't all be consumed. So, next holidays roll around and she serves it and it was really really bad.

                                                I blame Costco.

                                                1. re: 512window

                                                  What does Costco have to do with it?

                                                  1. re: treb

                                                    The whole stocking up thing. If she'd just bought a six pack it would have all been gone. Costco doesn't sell just a six pack.

                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Thanks, although I don't drink soda it's good to know.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                Soooo true!! I just learned this lesson. I discovered some old Diet Coke and though it'd be fine. I love Diet Coke, but not even I could have stomached that stuff. It was awful! The expiration date was sometime in October 2012.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  This is SO true. Our office keeps cases of soda for clients. They used to be kept stacked in a small closet, so naturally the bottom cases weren't getting used - when we got low we'd just buy more and stack them on top. Eventually one night they just blew up for no particular reason. Big mess - much mopping. Wow.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Even 6 months past is too far past I learned. I love Coke Zero. But I apparently am the only one who buys it from the little shop near work because the turn over on it isn't that great and I find I am constantly going through the whole row to check the dates on the bottom. Sometime in mid-January I accidentally purchased one with a date of Mid-November and it was just swill.

                                                    1. re: amishangst

                                                      You're probably right.

                                                      I probably just have a higher tolerance for expired diet sodas than most.

                                                      Just like I have a higher tolerance for expired eggs than most.

                                                  2. Last week I ate abalone wich had been in the freezer since Taxi was on prime time television.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: emglow101

                                                      LOL, I just thawed a whole fillet mignon, that I purchased in a sealed cryovac package 2 years ago, tasted fine.

                                                    2. Too numerous to mention. Never got sick. If it didn't look, smell or taste right, I wouldn't eat it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. We had fondue on Christmas Eve, and the kids battered 5 month expired Twinkies and deep fried them. They were eaten by all of us. While we were cleaning up, I broke down the empty box to put into the recycling bin and saw it had a July 2013 expiration date. No one got sick. Actually, they were delicious.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Pretty much everything, as long as they look, smell and taste fine. It looks like I take my time finishing my food and shop a lot at discount bins, because a lot of foodstuff at my household are finished after the expiry date. Also, most of my eggs, dairy and meat do not even have an expiration date because I get them close to the source ;-)

                                                          On the other hand, from time to time, I come across products that reek of rancidity when I open the package, even though it is far before expiry - fancy mixed grains, nut butters etc. The date can be so irrelevant.

                                                          1. If I bought it (or received it as a gift) prior to the expiration date, I know how it was stored and can judge if it's bad. Once it's in my home, I feel the product is in monitored storage and is probably more safe than products stored in warehouses.

                                                            Ditto on what everyone else said about yogurt, pickles, mustard, various condiments etc. There are some canned items that I can't get locally so I buy in bulk when I'm shopping at a store that has them.

                                                            Dried items (chili, fruits etc) are stored in a sealed container in a pantry closet. I check them periodically for funkiness but haven't had any issues in years.

                                                            Sometimes the "best by" dates are guidelines for the best taste but it doesn't mean they go bad. The "expiration" dates are put on cans now so the manufacturer is not "liable" if someone consumes after the date. Proper canning allows for super long storage.

                                                            1. Just found a jug of cranberry juice, in my pantry, that was best by date Jan 2011. The red color was a bit faded but, the taste was right on. So from all the responses, it looks like we don't waste food and let our common sense rule over such dates on packaging.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: treb

                                                                i've noticed that about cranberry juice cocktail -- the color fades.

                                                              2. I wanted to ask everyone how they feel about old apple cider? I have some in the fridge from a while ago and was wondering about your thoughts.

                                                                Are there warning signs to look/smell for to know if it has gone bad? I usually cook with it, I don't ever drink it, so I don't even know how it's supposed to taste.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: NancyChin

                                                                    It should reveal itself via nose. It can get pretty musty.

                                                                    1. re: NancyChin

                                                                      If it's not pasteurized it may have a slight fizz taste and could possibly ferment like a hard cider.

                                                                      1. re: treb

                                                                        i buy cider in the fall just for this purpose!

                                                                    2. Last weekend I made a spinach lasagna. When I was using some of the leftover ricotta to make a grilled cheese yesterday, I realized that the expiration date was February of 2013.

                                                                      I'm not sure how this managed to stay in our fridge so long, especially since we moved three months ago.

                                                                      The lasagna was delicious. The grilled cheese was delicious. No ill effects whatsoever.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jw615

                                                                        Wow, that's quite impressive ricotta.

                                                                        1. re: jw615

                                                                          Ricotta keeps for a good long while. I store it upside down in the container and I think it pushes it along a little farther.

                                                                        2. I was talking to a coworker the other day. She told me that she throws away everything on the expiration date. I sent her a couple of articles about how arbitrary the dates are.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                            Wow what a waste, I'll take the trashed goods :)

                                                                          2. I don't know about c rations but for dry goods general don't go bad but stale.If anyone has had chips where the bag was left open even after a few days will tend to be stale, but things like corn meal or flour are generally fine unless you find things in it you don't recognize then toss it.Things like deli meats I go by the expiration date and after a week past it goes out whether it still good or not.I'm not going to take the chance at giving my self food poisioning and it's not worth 4 dollars to take that chance.Dairy which I found out like cheese can be frozen,log or harder cheese will freeze best,shredded cheese maybe ok for a while but will loose it's texture overtime.O.K. for cooking but not so much for sandwiches.If you really want your food to last try vacuum packing and putting in a deep freeze.My issue are condiments which some don't show best by or expireed by like mustard,Ketshup,mayo or salad dressing.When in doubt throw it out.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: gremlin21

                                                                              I agree, even sealed after some time dry foods like chips go stale

                                                                            2. Dry goods like rice and pasta, I totally ignore dates on. Most canned goods, are the same. Condiments? They last forever. Most things when still sealed are just fine.

                                                                              Bags of potato chips and tortillas and taco shells however.. they get tossed when they start to smell or taste off. I found a box of taco shells shoved to the back of my pantry recently. Woah.. I could smell the rancid funk through the plastic wrapping around the tacos. Those got tossed in the outside trash right away.

                                                                              1. it is a shorter list to say which foods i *haven't* eaten past their "best-by" or "expiration" dates.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  I shutter to even look at the date on the relish jar in my refrigerator.

                                                                                2. Peeps! They get better with age.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: ChillyDog

                                                                                    Some people would say the same about circus peanuts. Now i want some.

                                                                                  2. If it looks/smells ok I'll eat it.Never had a problem.

                                                                                    1. I've heard you can put things like chips,taco shells and even dry spaghettii in to the microwave to remove the staleness,never tried it though.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: gremlin21

                                                                                        I'll have to try that out, thanks.

                                                                                      2. any and all unless they don't pass the ('3' test) test

                                                                                        1. Coconut milk was the most recent, as was the thai curry paste it went into... both a year overdue and fine.
                                                                                          We are making cyser,hard cider with honey, a type of mead, what is amazing is how long we have to let it age, from raw to years!!! Talk about shelf life and things getting better!

                                                                                          1 Reply