How many times did you throw away expired food away thinking it was still good for consumption? Well, it turns out you may have been right. If stored properly, food will be good even after its expiration date.
Most expiration dates are “largely made up,” Business Insider notes. Instead, these dates only indicate that they will reach their limits for “optimal quality” by a given time. The same goes for the “best if used by” label. Food consumed after its expiration date might not be harmful to the body, assuming it has been stored properly, and bacteria likely hasn’t had time to start growing.
So if you’re going to go past that expiration date, make sure you use your senses to determine whether food has indeed expired — smell and taste will quickly tell you the story.
How long is it going to be good for after expiration? Website StillTasty has compiled data from various sources including USDA, FDA, CDC and food manufacturers coming up with more details about the different goods you have in your freezer and pantry.
Here are some of the traditional foods and their actual best-by dates, as mentioned by Business Insider:
- Uncooked poultry: 1-2 days (refrigerator), 9 months (freezer)
- Cooked chicken: 3-4 days (refrigerator and unopened), 3-4 days (after it’s open)
- Uncooked veal, pork, and lamb: 3-5 days (refrigerator)
- Uncooked beef: 3-5 days (refrigerator), 6-12 months (freezer)
- Eggs: 3-5 weeks, up to 1 year (freezer) – check this guide on how to tell if an egg has gone bad
- Bacon: 2 weeks (refrigerator, unopened), 7 days (refrigerator, opened)
- Lunch meat: 2 weeks (refrigerator, unopened), 3-5 days (refrigerator, opened), 1-2 months (freezer)
- Fresh, raw salmon: 1-2 days (unopened), 2-3 months (freezer)
- Nuts: 10-12 months (pantry)
- Peanut butter: 3 months (pantry, opened), 3-4 months (refrigerator, opened)
- Lasagna noodles: 3 years (pantry)
- Chocolate: 2-3 weeks (room temperature, handmade chocolate) 6-9 months (room temperature), 1 year (refrigerator), 18 months (freezer)
- Milk: 1 week (refrigerator), 3 months (freezer)
- Lettuce: 1 week (refrigerator)
- Yogurt: 7-10 days (refrigerator), 1-2 months (freezer)
- Ketchup: 1 year (pantry, unopened), 1 month (pantry, opened), 6 months (refrigerator, opened)
- Wine: 3-5 days (refrigerator, opened), 4-6 months (freezer, opened) 3 years and beyond (unopened)