Partnerships between Today’s Harvest and local grocery stores provide fresh, unused grocery store food to use in our Today’s Harvest markets.
Each day, food is picked up from grocery stores, sorted by our volunteers, and picked out by shoppers to take home.
Because the food Today’s Harvest uses cannot be sold by grocery stores, the expiration, best by, or use by date might be closer than you are typically used to seeing. But the good news is that these dates don’t necessarily mean that the food is bad.
What do “best if used by/before”, “sell-by”, and “use-by” mean?
There can be a lot of different ways that dates can appear on food labels. None of these labels, with the exception of baby formula, are considered “safety dates” which means the food needs to be consumed by that date.
Here is what some of the common labels mean:
- Best if used by/before: indicates when the food will be of best flavor or quality
- Sell-by: used for store inventory management. It indicates how long a store should display the product
- Use-by: indicates the last day to use a food item for peak quality and flavor
How long is food typically good for after the date on the package?
These are guidelines for how long food is good for after the package date. Please use your best judgement, if food tastes, smells, or looks off, don’t eat it.
- Bakery items: 2-4 days
- Bagged salads: 1 week
- Deli items (sandwiches, deli meat, ready-to-eat meals): 2 days
- Eggs: 3-5 weeks
- Frozen meat: 3-6 months (if frozen before the package date)
- Liquid dairy (milk, creamers): 1 week
- Soft dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream): 2 weeks
- Solid dairy (hard cheese, butter): 4 weeks
Helps you understand food and beverage storage.
Save the Food
An interactive storage guide with tips, tricks, and information to keep your food fresh and tasty.
Food: Too Good to Waste
A program of Ramsey/Washington County Recycling & Energy with information about how to reduce food waste.