Do food label terms such as “best by,” “sell by,” “best if used by” and “use by” confuse you? If so, you’re not alone. “Most people really don’t know what those dates mean,” says Anna Curry, registered dietitian and director of culinary and nutrition programming at Whispering Roots. “There’s a lot of misinformation.”

This confusion can lead to food that is still good being discarded. Curry, who was the guest speaker for a recent Saving Grace Food for Thought Zoom presentation, said a study found 84% of consumers discarded food near the package date, at least some of the time.

“Food date labels are just an estimate,” Curry said. No federal laws regulate the dates. 
Dates, Curry said, are manufacturers’ best guesses as to peak quality for products. “It doesn’t mean as soon as it hits that date it’s bad.”

Curry provided insight into what these terms mean and how long past the date foods are still good to eat. Read the blog post to demystify food labels and learn how to store food so it lasts longer.