Do you open the fridge, pull the sour cream out, open it and check for fur. If no fur, you're good to go! That is not the recommended way to check for freshness. Test your knowledge of expiration date lingo:
Expiration Date means…
1) Can eat it if it passes the fur test
2) Can eat it if it passes the smell test
3) Can’t eat it no matter what
4) You can eat this for up to 7 days after the date expires
Correct Answer: #3 - Can't eat it no matter what!
Sell by date means…
1) You should use it before the date expires or you’ll get food poisoning
2) This date is so the store knows when to pull it from the shelves
3) You can eat this for up to 14 days after the date expires.
Correct Answer: #2 - This date is so the store knows when to pull it from the shelves. The "sell by" date is the last day the item is at its highest level of quality, but it will still be edible for some time after.
Best if Used by date means…
1) You should use it before the date expires or you’ll get an upset stomach
2) You should use it before the date expires or you’ll get muscle cramps
3) You should use it within one week after the date expires
4) You should use it as long as it tastes good.
Correct Answer: #4 - You should use it as long as it tastes good. This refers strictly to quality, not safety. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. Sour cream, for instance, is already sour, but can have a zippier, fresh taste when freshly sour (if that's not an oxymoron!)
Guaranteed fresh date means…1) This usually refers to bakery items. They will still be edible after the date, but will not be at peak freshness.
The only one that matters for safety is expiration date. And, none of these dates are regulated by any organization. They are up to the manufacturer.
Here are some other tips for helping you know if something is okay to eat:
- Milk - Usually fine until a week after the "Sell By" date.
- Eggs - OK for 3-5 weeks after you bring them home (assuming you bought them before the "sell by" date).
- Poultry and seafood - Cook or freeze this within a day or two.
- Beef and pork - Cook or freeze within three to five days.
- Canned goods - Highly acidic foods like tomato sauce can keep 18 months or more. Low-acid foods like canned green beans are probably risk-free for up to five years. Special Note – Don’t put them in a hot place like a garage or attic. And if it’s bulging at all – DON’T EAT IT!
- Cereal - Cereal that's stored in a cool, dry place can keep for a year past its expiration date.
- Flour, sugar, rice and cake mixes - Dry good kept in a closed container can last indefinitely (as long as they don’t get wet)
- Canned fruit - Eat canned fruit within 18 months of purchase
- Frozen pizza - Frozen pizza can be kept in the freezer for up to two months after purchase.
- Mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard - A container of mayonnaise that's been opened can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to two months, unopened, a year in the fridge or two to three months in your pantry.
- Ketchup - If it's been opened, it can last up to a year in your refrigerator or a month if it's in the pantry. Unopened ketchup lasts a year in your pantry.
- Mustard - If it's been opened, it can last up to a year in your refrigerator or in your pantry. If it hasn't been opened, it'll keep up to two years in your pantry.