Because there’s no uniform labeling system, you see several kinds of labels: sell-by dates, best-if-used-by, use-by, and expiration.
• Sell-by means the store just needs to sell the food by this date, it’s perfectly safe to eat for several days.
• Best-if-used-by comes from the manufacturer, and means the quality of the item’s taste goes downhill after the date, but it’s still safe.
• Use-by is similar to best-if-used-by, and refers to quality, not safety.
• Expiration refers to safety, and represents the date you should throw out the food.
However, even the expiration date isn’t set in stone. The only real way to tell if a food is safe to eat is to check it out for yourself. Take a close look and smell at the item in question. If you think it’s still okay, go ahead and eat it, even if the expiration date has passed.