Food you CAN keep past its sell by date

food-labelEvery year we throw away around seven million tonnes of food and drink at an estimated cost of £12 billion. Many people bin food because of confusion about in-date labels on packaging so here’s our guide to minimising waste…

‘Best before’ refers to quality rather than food safety, so foods are safe to be eaten after this date but may no longer be at their best.

‘Use by’ dates refer to food safety, so should not be eaten after this date even if it looks and smells fine.

‘Sell by’ dates are there to help supermarkets manage stock control so food is perfectly safe to be eaten after this date (within reason!) if it looks and smells OK. But there are some things that it may be hard to tell, so follow our guide by the experts at to avoid adding to your own food waste mountain…

People in ‘at risk’ groups including babies, pregnant women, the elderly and people who are already unwell should avoid food past its best-before date.

So how long after the sell-by date can you eat the following…


When properly stored eggs can be eaten up to three to four weeks after the sell-by, but you do need to ensure both the yolks and whites are cooked thoroughly when you do eat them.


Hard cheeses like Parmesan can still be eaten two to four months after the printed sell-by date, but if it’s grated it will only last for one to two months. Semi-hard cheese like Cheddar should only be kept for one to two months.

Once it’s opened all cheese should only be kept for a maximum of three to six weeks.


This will keep for one month in the fridge – or if it’s getting near its sell-by date put it in the freezer where it will last for six to nine months.


An unopened pack will last for one to two weeks but once it’s opened can only be kept for another week.


Raw meat – beef, pork and chicken – can only be used one to two days after the best-before date and will last up to seven days once it’s been cooked and refrigerated.

Salad dressings

Many salad dressings are oil or mayonnaise based and if they are stored correctly in the fridge they can still be used well past their best-by date. Mayonnaise-based dressings will last for one to two months after this date, but oil-based vinaigrettes can last up to four months.

Dried pasta

This can be used up to two years after the best-before date as long as it’s been in a sealed container and cooked pasta can last for up to seven days in the fridge or six to eight months in the freezer.

Store cupboard staples

You bought some cornflour or baking powder but only used a couple of teaspoons. You don’t notice it lurking at the back of the cupboard for several months and now it’s past its best-before date – is it still safe to use? Yes! Both products – along with sugar – can be kept indefinitely but other dried products like flour and cake mixes can be used up to six months after the sell-by date.

Copy courtesy of

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