Does use by date include that day?

In this article, we answer the following question: Does use by date include that day? We talk about the differences between expiration date vs use by date and how long can you safely eat expired food. 

Does use by date include that day?

Yes, by date does include the specific day that is mentioned on the label or packaging. It means that you can either consume it before that day or on that day. Once the day has passed, quality might suffer and it is not recommended to consume a product after its ‘by date’ has passed.

“By date” is the last day that the meal can be cooked and should be eaten straight away or frozen. Expiration dates tell consumers on the last day that a product is safe for consumption. A meal should never be consumed after the expiration date. 

On many occasions, it is not clear to us that there are two different types of marked dates and that depending on whether one or the other is going to affect the nature of the product in different ways. Until what date can we consume food? There is a difference between the expiration date and “use by” or “best before” date that often creates confusion among most people. 

Many of us only look in a general way at the printed date that appears on food, and after it, we consider that the product is no longer edible and that it must be discarded. In many cases it is appropriate, but to understand it better and really know the consumption limit of each food, we must know the difference between “expiration date” and “preferably consume before …”

Does the expiration date include the day?

Yes, the expiration date includes the day mentioned as the last day of expiry. Although the food item may still be good to consume after the mentioned that, the manufacturer ensures the best taste and quality only till the mentioned best by date.

Expiration date vs Use by date

On the one hand, we have the expiration date of the food, the date after which it should not be consumed and we should discard it. Normally this expiration date is printed on the most perishable products that spoil more easily.

The problem of exceeding the expiration date printed on food is that it involves a health risk, due to the interaction of bacteria and microorganisms that can lead to contamination of the product.

In both cases (expiration date and use by date) the indications must be respected.

To carry out the estimation of the expiration date of a product, companies carry out chemical and microbiological tests to estimate and control the time in which the food can be preserved without any type of contamination and, therefore, without risk to health.

Although it is true that there is also a little “wide sleeve” when it comes to assigning the expiration date to a product, the general recommendation is that it be discarded once the expiration date has passed.

On the other hand, we have the “use by” date, which unlike the expiration date, will not entail a health risk if it is exceeded in a few days, but we repeat: in a few days.

As a general rule, when it comes to” Expiration date “, consuming the food entails a risk to health, so it should be discarded. If it is the “Best before” date, in principle the food can be consumed a few days later without posing a risk to health, although it must be borne in mind that the product will have lost part of its nutritional and organoleptic properties. 

Once the preferred consumption date has passed, the food may no longer contain either the initial characteristics or the expected quality, but without posing a danger to health within immediate consumption and, of course, always following the optimal food preservation guidelines.

Unlike the case of “expiration date”, the tests that are carried out on less perishable foods to establish their preferred consumption are quality analyzes, where the organoleptic properties of the product are analyzed, that is, color changes are controlled, smell, taste, or texture thereof.

Can you eat food on the ‘use by’ date?

Yes, you can eat food on the ‘use by’ date. Best before or the use by date includes the mentioned date on the pack. The food item is safe to consume even after the date. The best by date shows that the product’s quality will be best if consumed within the mentioned range.

How long can you safely eat expired food?


Gem – 6 months – 1 year

Beer – 6 months – 2 years

Dry pasta – 1 year

Pickles – 1 year

Olives or capers in brine – 1 year

Mustard (stored in the refrigerator and with the lid on) – 2 years

Spices – 2 – 3 years


Margarine – 1-2 months

Nutella – 1 – 2 months

Ground coffee – 3-5 months

Bulk tea or sachets – 6 months

Coffee beans – 6 months

Olives (without brine) – 2 – 4 months

Peanut butter – 3 months

Mayonnaise – 3 months

Olive oil (kept in a cool, dark place) – 18 – 24 months

Ketchup – 6 months

Flour – 6 – 8 months

Dried fruits – 3 – 6 months (in the closet), 6 – 12 months (in the refrigerator)


Cream cheese – 1 – 2 weeks

Butter – 2 – 3 weeks

Eggs (kept in a cool area of the refrigerator, not on the door) – 3 and 5 weeks

Cream (sealed container, in the refrigerator) – two weeks

Melted cheese, cream cheese – 1 – 2 weeks

Bread (stored in the refrigerator) – 2 weeks


Pizza – 3 – 5 days

Hummus – 4 – 6 days

Milk – 5 – 7 days

Mushrooms – 7 – 10 days

Cream – 7 – 10 days

Bacon – 7 days

Soy milk – 7 – 10 days

Yogurt – 7 – 10 days

Pasteurized milk – 7 days

Salmon – 1-2 days

Tofu (open packaging) – 3-5 days

There are also products that have a shelf life, although they last permanently if kept in the refrigerator: honey, maple syrup, and vinegar.

For expired foods that do not appear on our list, check the information on the website.


In this article, we answered the following question: Does use by date include that day? We talked about the differences between expiration date vs use by date and how long can you safely eat expired food. 

The ideal way to consume food in a one hundred percent optimal state is not to exceed any of the consumption dates printed on the products. Our advice to control the quality of the products we take and not waste food is to pay attention when buying to the printed dates, avoiding the excessive purchase of discounted products, which normally have an immediate expiration, and periodically review the stock from our pantry!

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