Can you eat food 2 days after the use-by date?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you eat food 2 days after the use-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can eat food that is past the use-by date. 

Can you eat food 2 days after the use-by date?

Whether or not you can still eat food that is past the use-by date mainly depends upon the type of food, the storage conditions it was kept in, and if signs of spoilage are associated with it or not.

Now according to USDA, you should consume your food before the use-by date but whether or not you are going to eat a properly stored food (stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time) that is 2 days past the use-by date mainly depends upon your decision (you should do a sensory evaluation of food).  

Moreover when in doubt, it is better to just discard the food that is past the use-by date because no one wants to eat some old food at the expense of their health.

It is worth mentioning that the use-by date refers to the date that is marked on the packaging of the perishable food commodities and it refers to the time by which you should consume that food. 

When it comes to the perishable food items then we know that they have a limited shelf life and the use-by date is the estimated time that is calculated by the food manufacturers during which you can consume that food without the risk of getting sick.

Foods like eggs, bread, canned food, frozen foods, packaged foods, or pasta can be safe to consume as long as there are no signs of spoilage associated with them, they pass the sensory evaluation, and are stored in ideal condition.

On the other hand, when it comes to meat and milk, then it depends upon the outcome of your sensory evaluation and your own decision whether you are going to use it or not as the consumption of spoiled milk or meat can cause serious health implications.

Last but not least when it comes to seafood like fresh fish, prawns, etc. then it is better to use them before the use-by date as the incidence of shellfish poisoning is quite high and it is better to devour the fresh seafood as soon as possible to enjoy its good quality.

Now when doing the sensory evaluation of the milk, you should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of the milk to reach a final verdict whether or not it has gone bad.

  1. If the milk is curdled or has lumps present in it, then it is an indication of bad milk and you should get rid of it. 
  1. With time the color of the bad milk also changes to more of a yellow one.
  1. If you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test then it is an indication that the milk has gone bad.
  1. Moreover, bad milk has a sour or acidic taste.

You can read how to store milk safely here.

In the case of the meat, you should consider its color, texture, and smell to find out if it has gone bad or not.

  1. If you notice that the color of the meat has changed to grey-green then it is the indication that your meat is past its prime time.
  1. If you feel something slimy or gooey while touching the meat then it means that your meat has gone bad and it is better to discard it. 
  1. If you smell something acidic or sour while taking a sniff test of your meat then it means that your meat has gone bad and you should discard it.  

Moreover, if you spot a mold or other organic growth on your food then it is better to discard it.

Thus, you should consider the points discussed above while deciding whether or not you are going to devour food that is 2 days past the use-by date.

It is worth mentioning that the way you have stored your food also impacts the shelf life of the food. 

For instance, if your perishable food commodity was stored for more than 2 hours at room temperature (or more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) then it is better to discard it as bacteria grow best at 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and there are chances of your food to be already bacteria-laden in this case.

It is worth mentioning that when it comes to the use-by date then you can use the food that is past this date provided that it was already stored properly in the freezer (before the use-by date).

Last but not least, always remember that when in doubt, it is better to just discard the food because the consumption of the contaminated food can lead to many food-borne illnesses especially food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chills, and fever.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you eat food 2 days after the use-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can eat food that is past the use-by date. 

Citations

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/80518/do-food-expiration-dates-really-mean-anything/

https://www.insider.com/what-happens-if-you-eat-food-that-went-bad-2019-2

https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/8728779/meat-safe-fifty-days-use-by-dates-rigid-money/

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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