All food packaging will have some sort of dating on it. For foods that tend to stay fresher longer, this will be a “best before” or “sell-by” date, while highly perishable items usually contain a “use-by” date.
Use-By Date If a product indicates that it should be used by a certain date, you should consume or cook that item on or before the specific date stated on the packaging.
Once that date has passed, the food item is no longer deemed fit for consumption according to the manufacturer and government health and safety specifications.
Meat, fish and poultry are the main items that have use-by dates, as they are the most perishable products and eating them past their use-by dates may be harmful and could cause illness.
Throw away any items you still have in your refrigerator that have passed their use-by dates, even if they look and smell ok.
The sell-by date gives the consumer a bit more leeway with regards to when to cook and consume that product.
You should purchase a product on or before the sell-by date, but there is usually some time in which to use that item before the expiration date.
Best before dates tend to apply to items that may keep fresh for several weeks, months or even years.
The best before date does not mean that a certain item must be consumed by that date; it is just an indication or estimate as to when a product will start to lose its quality. You can still consume this product after this date, but it may not taste as fresh as it should. The “best before date” applies to unopened packaging.