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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Food Expiration Dates

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Best by? Use by? Good if used by?

There are SO many expiration dates and ways they are printed on food packages! How do you know what each one means, and how do you avoid wasting perfectly good food by throwing it away too soon just because it seems to be “out of date?” Not to mention this can have an environmental and financial impact for you and others, when food that is good to eat gets tossed away instead of being consumed.

Jenny Lobb, Extension educator, talks food labels with Brian Roe, a professor in the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, about the costs associated with mis-interpreting the dates printed on food labels.

We have many free fact sheets available on Ohioline that can provide some tips and tricks for you to help improve food preservation and reduce food waste at home.

It's true  Use-By, Sell-By, Best-By Dates Don’t All Mean the Same Thing, as this Chow Line article clarifies.

It's safety first: the label date IS important, but consumers often misunderstand what the date actually means. And to add insult to injury...when you throw away food that is still good, you also throw away the resources that went into making the food.

So, just what IS food product dating? Check out this explanation by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. also provides a useful summary about What you need to know about food expiration dates.

In one study, Ohio State researchers confirmed that sometimes Milk Date Labels Contribute to Food Waste.

Brian Roe, associate chair and Fred N. VanBuren Professor of Farm Management in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at Ohio State, focuses on product quality, preventing food waste, and consumer economics, among his many interests.