Eating Safely

Frequently Asked Questions

18. What do "Sell-By," “Use-By,” and "Best If Used By" dates on food tell me?

"Sell-By," "Use-By," and "Best If Used By (or Before)," are product dates found mainly on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

  • 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 "Use-By" tells how long the product will be at peak quality. If you buy or use it after that date, it might not be safe.
  • A "Best If Used By (or before)" date is the last date that the manufacturer of the product suggests is best for consuming the food. It is not a “purchase by” or safety date.

Learn more about food product dating. (USDA)