Best if used by this date
Obviously when milk turns yellow, throw it out. But how do you tell if those canned green beans are past their prime? According to Consumer Affairs online, grocery stores are not legally required to remove food once expiration dates have passed. Dates are provided for stores to consult, not necessarily follow. The only products for which the US government requires an expiration date are infant formula and baby food. Here are familiar terms and what they mean.
Sell by: Don't buy after this date. This is the "expiration date."
Best if used by: Quality is best if used by this date, but the product is still edible if used after it.
Use by: This is the last day the manufacturer vouches for the product's quality.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society