Real Simpleanswers your questions.

By Real Simple
Updated July 06, 2009
Beatriz da Costa

Q. What is the real meaning of the use-by date on dairy products?

Judy Allen

Opelika, Alabama

A. Dairy products typically bear a use-by date, which, according to the Food and Drug Administration, is the last date of the product’s peak quality, as determined by the manufacturer. Because there are no set guidelines, the use-by dates vary from product to product, company to company.

If you see an expired date on a package, don’t chuck the food right away. Most companies typically say that foods are fine to eat a few days after the use-by date, unless they have been mishandled―for example, have been let to stand at room temperature. Remember to use good judgment: Toss products that have developed odors or that look past their prime. This is definitely an area where it’s better to be safe than sorry. ―Lindsay Funston

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