Expiration Dates

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Welcome! This page is intended to be the web's most comprehensive compilation of food expiration date information. I hope you find it useful.

If you know of other sources or items not listed, please consider contributing or at least adding it to the links section below. Because I have had to disable public logins due to spambots, you can email new information to me and I'll add it.

You may also visit Expiration Dates for Household Products.

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General Information

From Consumer Affairs [1]:

Most food is still edible after the expiration date but may not be very tasty. (Of course, lots of packaged food isn't much good before the expiration date, but that's another question).

Most people are surprised to find out that:
  • Stores are not legally required to remove food once the expiration date has passed. They are strictly "advisory" in nature.
  • Dating is not federally required, except for infant formula and baby food. States have varying laws. Most states require that milk and other perishables be sold before the expiration date.

The major codes are:
  • Sell by - Don't buy the product after this date. This is the "expiration date."
  • Best if used by - Flavor or quality is best by this date but the product is still edible thereafter.
  • Use by - This is the last day that the manufacturer vouches for the product's quality.

From the FDA [2]:

If freezing meat and poultry in its original package longer than 2 months, overwrap these packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper, or place the package inside a plastic bag.

If the power goes out, how long will food last in the freezer and fridge? [3]

You have several hours before total starvation begins to set in. If the fridge door is kept closed, food will last for about 4 to 6 hours, and will remain edible for about 1 to 2 days in the freezer.

Foods

Apples

  • You can enjoy weeks and weeks of apple bobbing parties with these hardy fruits; if stored in a cool, dry area (the basement and the fridge drawer are always good picks), apples can last anywhere between 3 to 6 months.

Bacon, raw

  • Throw it out after a week. A sealed package of raw bacon will last for about a week in the fridge, and about one month in the freezer.
  • Opened: 5 to 7 days in fridge

Beef

Beer

  • Depends on the kind of beer you choose. The freshness period for bottled lager is about four months; five months for stronger brewed ales. Some beers contain freshness dates, so check the labels. Especially strong ales can be aged for years; bottle-conditioned beers can last many months.
  • Can I drink a bottle of beer that was left open overnight?
Technically, sure, go ahead. The beer won't be toxic or anything, but if you could muster up the energy to go over to the fridge and open up a brand new bottle, you'll save yourself the not-so-fun experience of ingesting flat, raunchy, morning-after alcohol.

Bisquick

  • By expiration date, both opened and unopened.
  • This article seems to indicate that "the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic," so make sure you check and adhere to the expiration date on the package!

Bouillon

  • Unopened, 24 months.
  • Keep dry and covered.

Bread

  • If you want your bread to stay fresh, then keep your loaf on the counter at room temperature; refrigerating bread may halt the growth of mold, but it will dry bread out and cause it to become stale more quickly. If you want to store bread, however, you're better off sticking it in the freezer.


Burgers

  • Whether it's been barbecued, baked, fried, or thrown on a hot sidewalk in the middle of a heat wave, cooked meat shouldn't be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After 2 hours, human-unfriendly bacteria starts to grow on the meat, making it an unhealthy, highly unpleasant snack and all-around bad idea to mess with.

Butter

  • 1 month in fridge.

Buttermilk

  • 1 to 2 weeks in fridge.

Canned bread

  • Three years without preservatives [4].

Canned seafood

  • Pantry: 5 years
  • Opened: 3 to 4 days in fridge.
  • Out of can: 2 months in freezer.

Casseroles, frozen

  • 3 to 4 months.

Cereal

  • You can look forward to several blissful months of waking up to the Cap'n. Cap'n Crunch, that is; an open box of cereal will remain edible for about 2 to 3 months in a dry room. A humid home, on the other hand, spells a shorter shelf life for your favorite box of cereal.
  • Unopened: 6 to 12 months

Cheese, hard or soft

  • The "rock" of cheeses, hard cheese lasts for 3 to 4 weeks after being opened, whereas soft cheese lasts for about one week after being opened.
    • Cheddar, Swiss: Opened, 3 to 4 weeks in fridge.
    • Parmesan, grated: 1 year in fridge.
    • Soft, cream and Neufchatel: 2 weeks in fridge.
    • Cottage cheese: 5 to 7 days or package date in fridge.

Chicken

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • Can poultry be put in the freezer after it's been cooked?
Freeze away. Fried chicken will keep in the freezer for 4 to 6 months, while cooked poultry dishes will last for about 4 months in the freezer.

Chicken Nuggets & Patties (cooked)

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • 1 to 3 months in freezer.

Chocolate (Hershey bar)

  • 1 year from production date
  • Don't worry if your girlfriend doesn't gobble up all that Belgian chocolate you gave her in one night. Chocolate stays fresh for about eight months, and lasts for up to a year if stored in a tightly sealed package.
  • Pre-melted: 18 months unopened.
  • Semi-sweet: 18 months unopened.
  • Nestle:
    • Milk-chocolate bits: 16 months unopened
    • Butterscotch bits: 18 months unopened
    • Unsweetened: 24 months unopened
    • Chocobake: 24 months unopened
    • Baking cocoa: 24 months unopened

Chocolate syrup

  • Unopened, 24 months
  • Opened, 6 months in fridge.

Cocoa Mixes

  • Unopened, 8 months.
  • Nestle:
    • Unopened, 24 months.
    • Opened, 3 to 6 months.

Coffee, canned ground

  • Unopened: 2 years
  • Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet

  • Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
  • Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant

  • Unopened: Up to 2 years
  • Opened: Up to 1 month

Cold cuts

  • Open: 3-5 days
  • Sealed: 10 days

Condiments (see specific entries)

  • In the fridge, opened ketchup, jams and jellies will remain in an optimal state for about six months. Mustard and soy sauce will hang on for about a year, mayo and barbecue sauce last about two months, and salsa should get the axe after one month.

Cookies

  • Homemade: 2 to 3 weeks
  • Packaged: 2 months.

Corned beef

  • In pouch with pickling juices:
    • 5 to 7 days in fridge.
    • Drained, 1 month in freezer.

Cornmeal

  • Unopened, 12 months.

Cornstarch

  • Unopened, 18 months.

Crackers

  • 3 months.

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)

  • Unopened: 3 months from "best by" date.
  • Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.

Drink Mix (Country Time, Crystal Light, Tang)

  • 24 months, opened or unopened.

Eggs

  • Long enough for a month of omelets. Fresh eggs, in their shell, can last in the fridge for 4 to 5 weeks after purchase.
  • According to Alton Brown:
"An unrefrigerated egg ages a week in a day; keep eggs refrigerated. The rate at which an egg goes downhill has more to do with handling than time. The warmer it is, the faster the membranes that separate the different parts of the egg deteriorate. Properly stashed in their carton in the back of the fridge, eggs will keep an amazingly long time. Grade AA eggs will drop to Grade A eggs in about a week but won't descend to Grade B for about six weeks. After that they're still perfectly edible but I would not do much more than scramble them."
  • Two weeks from the expiration date on the carton
  • Don't freeze well.

Eggs, hard-boiled

  • Refrigerated hard-boiled eggs should be eaten seven days after being cooked.
  • Don't freeze well.

Eggs, raw yolks and whites

  • 2 to 4 days in fridge.
  • 1 year in freezer. So freeze the whites from the custard you made to make an angel food cake, or vice versa.

Egg Substitutes, liquid

  • Opened, 3 days - don't freeze.
  • Unopened, 10 days in fridge, 1 year in freezer.

Fish

  • Fresh:
    • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
    • Lean (cod), up to 6 months in freezer.
    • Fatty (salmon), 2 to 3 months in freezer.
  • Cooked:
    • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
    • 4 to 6 months in freezer.
  • Smoked:
    • 14 days in fridge.
    • 2 months in freezer.

Flour

  • Unopened, 6 to 8 months.
  • Betty Crocker:
    • 18 months, opened and unopened.

Fried chicken, leftover

  • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
  • 4 months in freezer.

Frostings

  • Betty Crocker: 8 to 10 months.
  • Canned: 3 months.
  • Mix: 8 months.

Fruit, canned

  • Opened, 5 to 7 days in the fridge.

Gelatin

  • Unopened, 18 months.

Giblets (poultry)

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • 3 to 4 months in freezer.

Gravy & Meat Broth

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • 2 to 3 months in freezer.

Grits

  • Unopened, 12 months.

Ground beef

  • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
  • 3 to 4 months in freezer [5].

Ground chicken or turkey

  • 2 to 3 days in fridge.
  • 6 months in freezer.

Ground pork or veal

  • 1 to 2 months in freezer.

Half-and-half

  • 7 to 10 days in fridge.

Ham

  • Canned, labeled "Keep Refrigerated":
    • Opened, 3 to 5 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.
    • Unopened, 6 to 9 months, don't freeze.
  • Fully cooked:
    • Whole: 7 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.
    • Half: 3 to 5 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer
    • Slices: 3 to 4 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.

Hamburger Helper

  • 12 months.

Honey

  • Indefinite shelf life, but is susceptible to fungi.
  • Unopened, 12 months [6].
  • Crockett Stewart:
    • Unopened, 12 to 24 months - best taste if used in 2 years. Last indefinitely so use for baking after 2 years. If in can, may turn dark [7].

Hot dogs

  • Opened: If kept in a sealed container, hot dogs will last about five to seven days in the fridge, and will keep for up to two months in the freezer.
  • Unopened: 2 weeks in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.

Ice cream

  • It's hard to believe that something this good could ever go bad; but just like Lex Luthor, ice cream, too, will eventually cross over to the dark side. Although it doesn't have a set shelf life, this frozen goodness will eventually grow a layer of fuzzy ice droplets that give it a coarse, icy texture and just take all the fun out of eating it. The jury's still out on when this occurs, but depending on the condition of your freezer, it could be anywhere from 12 days to 12 months.
  • Ice crystals on the inside of an ice cream container are formed by sublimation. As the ice cream is consumed, the air space within the container increases. This allows more water to evaporate from the ice cream, and subsequently refreeze. Therefore, as the remaining ice cream decreases, so does the shelf life. A large container with a small amount of the ice cream remaining may only last 2-3 days.

Instant Potatoes

  • 6 to 12 months.

Jams & Jellies

  • Opened: 6 months in the fridge.

Jello

  • Unopened, 24 months.

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)

  • Unopened: 8 months from production date
  • Opened: 7 to 10 days

Keg

  • Go ahead, stretch that keg party out over an entire month. If stored in a cool, dry place, kegs can usually be kept for a couple of months. They also tend to have expiry dates, so if you're unsure, check the label.

Ketchup

  • Unopened: 1 year (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
  • Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Kool-Aid

  • Unopened, 18 to 24 months
  • Opened, 2 months

Leftover Cooked Meat & Meat Dishes

  • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
  • 2 to 3 months in freezer.

Leftover Cooked Poultry

  • Dishes:
    • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
    • 4 to 6 months in freezer.
  • Pieces, plain:
    • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
    • 4 months in freezer.
  • Pieces covered with broth, gravy:
    • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
    • 6 months in freezer.

Leftover takeout

  • Whether the greasy goodness is of the Chinese, Italian or American variety, don't even consider getting close to the stuff if it's been left out at room temperature for more than two hours; however, if refrigerated, takeout is edible for about three or four days.

Lunch meat

  • Sliced, 3 days in the fridge.
  • Opened:
    • 3 to 5 days in fridge.
    • 1 to 2 months in freezer
  • Unopened:
    • 2 weeks in fridge.
    • 1 to 2 months in freezer.

Macaroni salad, store-prepared

  • 3 to 5 days in fridge.
  • Don't freeze.

Maple syrup, real or imitation

  • 1 year

Maraschino cherries

  • Unopened: 3 to 4 years
  • Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Margarine

  • 1 month in fridge.

Marshmallows

  • Unopened: 40 weeks
  • Opened: 3 months

Marshmallow Cream

  • Unopened, 3 to 4 months.

Mayonnaise, commercial

  • Unopened: Indefinitely
  • Opened: 1 to 2 months in the fridge [8]
  • Don't freeze.

Meats

  • Opened, 1 to 2 days in fridge (I guess this is unspecifically "meats")

Milk

  • Milk should definitely be chucked after it has expired. The nutrients and vitamins in milk start to diminish after opening, so besides giving you the stomachache of your life, drinking expired milk won't really do your body any good.
  • Whole and skimed, 1 week in fridge.
  • 1 month in the freezer.
  • Condensed: Unopened, 12 months.
  • UHT: Unopened, 6-9 months.
  • Evaporated:
    • Unopened, 6 months.
    • Opened, 3 months.
    • Invert cans each 2 months [9].

Mixes (biscuit, brownie, muffin)

  • Unopened, 9 months.
  • Angel Food:
    • Unopened, 12 months.

Molasses

  • Unopened, 12 months or more.
  • Opened, 6 months.


Mustard

  • 2 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Oil

  • Mazola Corn or Canola Oil: 18 months opened or unopened.

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)

  • Unopened: 3 years
  • Opened: 3 months

Olive oil

  • 2 years from manufacture date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Pancake mix

Pasta, cooked

  • Plain, cooked pasta can last for up to four days in the fridge, and will remain edible in the freezer for three months.

Pasta, dried

  • 12 months
  • Unopened, 24 months [10].

Pasta-Roni

  • Expiration date.

Peanuts

  • Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
  • Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural

  • 9 months

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)

  • Unopened: 2 years
  • Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Pectin

  • Liquid, unopened, 12 months.

Pickles

  • Unopened: 18 months
  • Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.
  • Opened: 2 to 3 months in fridge [11].

Pie Crust Mix

  • 8 months.

Pies and Pastries

  • 2 to 3 days.

Pizza, delivered

  • See all those boxes of half-eaten pizza strewn around your living room floor? Yeah, you might want to think about throwing those out. Delivery pizza in the box will last for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, but should be terminated faster than Kevin Costner's career if left at room temperature for over 2 hours.

Poultry

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • Whole, 12 months in the freezer.
  • Parts, 9 months in the freezer.

Protein bars (PowerBars)

  • Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check "best by" date on the package.

Pudding Mixes

  • 12 months.

Ribs (fresh beef, lamb, pork, veal)

  • 2 days in fridge

Rice

  • Flavored or herb: unopened, 6 months.
  • Minute Rice: Unopened and opened, 18 months.
  • White: 2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Rice/Pasta Mixes

  • 6 months.

Rice-a-Roni

  • Expiration date.

Roasts (fresh beef, lamb, pork, veal)

  • 2 to 4 days in fridge [12].
  • 3 to 5 days in fridge [13].
  • 6 to 12 months (beef roasts) in freezer.
  • 4 to 8 months (pork roasts) in freezer.

Salad dressing, bottled

  • Unopened: 12 months after "best by" date
  • Opened:
    • 9 months refrigerated
    • 3 months in fridge [14].
  • From mix: 2 weeks in fridge.
  • Good Seasons: 24 months unopened.
  • Hidden Valley: 12 months unopened

Salad Oils

  • Unopened, 6 months.
  • Opened, 1 to 3 months in fridge.

Sausage

  • Raw from pork, beef, chicken, or turkey:
    • 1 to 2 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.
  • Smoked breakfast links and patties:
    • 7 days in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.
  • Summer sausage, labeled "Keep Refrigerated":
    • Opened: 3 weeks in fridge, 1 to 2 months in freezer.
    • Unopened: 3 months, 1 to 2 months in freezer.

Shellfish, fresh

  • Shrimp, scallops, crawfish, squid:
    • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
    • 3 to 6 months in freezer.

Shortening (Crisco)

  • Unopened, 18 months.
  • Opened, 6 to 12 months.

Soda, regular

  • Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from "best by" date
  • Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected

Soup Mix

  • 12 months.

Soups & Stews

  • Vegetable or meat-added & mixtures of them: 3 to 4 days in fridge, 2 to 3 months in freezer.

Sour cream

  • 3 to 4 weeks in fridge.

Steaks and chops (fresh beef, lamb, pork, veal)

  • 3 days in fridge
  • 3 to 4 months in freezer.
  • Steaks: 6 to 12 months in the freezer.
  • Chops: 4 to 6 months in the freezer.

Steak, frozen

  • You've got almost a year to eat like a real man. Raw steak will last up to 12 months in the freezer.
  • 6 to 12 months in freezer [15].

Steak sauce

  • 33 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Stew meat (fresh beef, lamb, pork, veal)

  • 2 days in fridge.
  • 3 to 4 months in freezer.

Store-cooked convenience meals

  • 3 to 4 days in fridge.
  • Don't freeze.

Stuffed pork & lamb chops, or chicken breasts stuffed w/ dressing

  • 1 day in fridge.
  • Don't freeze.

Sugar

  • Brown: Unopened, 4 months.
  • Confectioners: Unopened, 18 months.
  • Granulated: Unopened, 24+ months.
  • Sweeteners: Unopened, 24+ months.
  • C & H:
    • Granulated: 18 months.
    • Brown: 9 months.
    • Confectioners: 6 months.

Syrups

  • Unopened, 12 months.

Tabasco

  • 5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Taco Mix

  • 18 months.

Tapioca

  • According to the wikipedia entry, tapioca is made from a starchy tuber, and the processing concept is "akin to the way that wheat is turned into pasta." See Pasta.

Tea bags

  • Use within 2 years of opening the package
  • Unopened:
    • Bags: 18 months.
    • Instant: 36 months.
    • Loose: 24 months.
    • Sweetened: 18 months.

Toaster Pastries

  • 2 to 3 months.

Tuna, canned

  • Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
  • Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

TV dinners, frozen

  • Unopened: 12 to 18 months [16]
  • These convenient marvels of modern living will last in the freezer for about 6 months; check the expiry date on the package just to be sure [17].
  • 3 to 4 months [18].

Twinkies

  • Sorry, Twinkies do not, in fact, defy all the laws of food storage. They have a shelf life of about a month, and this relatively lengthy shelf life is due to the fact that Twinkies contain no dairy products.

Soy sauce, bottled

  • Unopened: 2 years
  • Opened: 3 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Vacuum-packed dinners (commercial) with USDA seal

  • 2 weeks in fridge.
  • Don't freeze.

Variety Meats (tongue, kidneys, liver, heart, chitterlings)

  • 1 to 2 days in fridge.
  • 3 to 4 months in freezer.

Vegetables

  • 2-10 days in fridge
  • Shelf life varies greatly depending on the type of vegetable

Vegetables, frozen

  • Unopened: 18 to 24 months
  • Opened: 1 month

Vinegar

  • 12-18 months, depending on the type

Vodka

  • Maybe some things do last forever. Vodka, wonder drink that it is, can last indefinitely. Since liquor like whisky, Scotch and vodka are distilled, and already aged, they won't deteriorate like wine or beer. Just keep it away from bright light, and your vodka will keep forever.
  • Another view: Many people believe that vodka has an unlimited expiration date. This is not absolutely so. After long periods, there is an increase of alkalinity in the drink, and possibly an occurrence of deposit formation. Warranty periods of vodka storage and qualification as foodstuff since the date of pouring are 12 months, with the temperature at no more than 5 to +25°C. For "vodka special" (which contains additives giving vodka a special taste), 6 months with temperature no more than 5 to +25°C. Spirits slowly dissolve the body of a glass.

Whipped cream

  • 10 days in fridge.

Wine (red, white)

  • Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines
  • Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked
  • Once opened, wine begins to oxidize rapidly; red wine may last a day or so longer than white, but neither will be very palatable after two or three days. This process of oxidation doesn't make wine toxic, but it will taste unpleasant (have you ever tried drinking vinegar?). However, putting the cork back into an opened bottle of wine and putting it back in the fridge will keep it from over-maturing for about a week. There are also commercial products that can extend the life of previously-opened wines; aerosol cans with an inert, heavier-than-air gas that can form a layer between air and wine, minimizing oxidation.
  • A good wine will begin to lose quality within an hour of being uncorked. Recorking the wine will keep it for a few hours at most. Using a vacuum cork to evacuate the air from the bottle will keep the wine for 1-2 days. Inert gas & recorking will keep it for 2-3 days. Do not expect a fine wine to ever be as good as when the cork is first removed.

Worcestershire sauce

  • Unopened: 5 to 10 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
  • Opened: 2 years

External Links and References

Specifically Listing Expiration Dates

Most of the information in these links have been consolidated onto this page.

FDA Consumer magazine

General Food Safety Tips

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