The Actual Difference Between 'Use By' and 'Sell by' Dates

Lots of cooking and baking over the holiday season and it's the worst when you go to grab an ingredient and you see that expiration date. You've already been to the store three times and don't want to run back! Can you still use it even though the date has passed? Here is the actual difference between 'use by' and 'sell by' dates.

  • Expiration Date - this one isn't as definitive as it sounds. Expiration dates really do depend on what type of food it is and if it looks, smells, or feels foul.
  • Use-by Date- this one indicates peak quality, not safety. The use-by date suggests the best time to eat the food products so you're not eating it past its prime. As long as the appearance, smell, and texture are good, you're likely safe to eat the product.
  • Best if Used-by/Before - this is strictly a quality date, suggesting when the product will have the best taste.
  • Sell-By Date - this is for stores. It indicates how long a product should be on the shelves.
  • Freeze-By Date - similar to the "use-by" date but for freezing. Freezing most food products extends their life and this date is meant to tell you when to freeze an item at its highest quality.

For more specifics on each of these visit

Milk expiration date

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