Ever peek through your fridge to realize the expiration date on your meat or dairy products passed a few weeks ago? Don’t pitch the yogurt just yet.

Expiration dates on food actually refer to their freshness and quality, not safety. So even if you’ve passed the expiration, the food is still technically safe to eat. It may not taste as fresh, but there are no harmful effects.

Now, that’s not to say if your cheese is covered in mold, use it for your sandwich. Use common sense and rely on sight and smell to see if there are any rotting spots, or if products smell sour. Promptly refrigerate foods that need to be refrigerated and don’t eat meat, eggs or milk that has been left out for more than two hours.

Take a look at some of the recommended storage times for common grocery items:

The Shelf LIfe of Groceries

For more information on safe food habits, visit foodsafety.gov.

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