The Milk’s Expired! Should I Toss It? (Expiration Dates Explained)


I have always had a bad habit of pouring the milk out on the sell by date and a lot of other dairy products! Dairy products in general just make me nervous when it comes to expiration.

Did you know sell by dates are more about quality than safety? Without fully understanding that you could be discarding food that is perfectly safe to eat!

Fun Facts:

On average, in the U.S. we waste about 14% of the food we buy each year.

The average American family of four throws out around $600 worth of groceries every year.

The top five foods people are afraid of being unsafe after the printed date are milk, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, and eggs.

What you need to know:

  • Milk: If properly refrigerated, milk will remain safe, nutritious, and tasty for about a week after the sell-by date and will probably be safe to drink longer than that, though there’s a decline in nutritional value and taste.
  • Cottage cheese: Pasteurized cottage cheese lasts for 10-14 days after the date on the carton.
  • Mayonnaise: Unopened, refrigerated Kraft mayonnaise can be kept for 30 days after its expiration date or 3-4 months after opening.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt will remain good 7-10 days after its sell-by date.
  • Eggs: Properly refrigerated eggs should last at least 3-5 weeks after the sell-by date, according to Professor Joe Regenstein, a food scientist at Cornell University. Note: Use of either a sell-by or expiration (EXP) date is not federally required, but may be state required, as defined by the egg laws in the state where the eggs are marketed.

The “Use-By” Date

The “use-by” o date indicates the last day that the item is at its best quality as far as taste, texture, appearance, odor, and nutritional value. The decline after that is gradual. The use-by date refers to product that has not yet been opened.

The “Sell By” Date

The “sell by” date is not really a matter of food safety, but a notice to stores that the product should be taken off the shelf because it will begin to decline in quality after that date.

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  1. superfancy says

    FYI — the sell by date for eggs is two full months after gathered. i try to buy things that have “picked on” or “frozen on” dates only

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