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What do food freshness labels really mean?
- By Toni Golen, MD, Contributor, and
- Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Ask the doctors
Q. My friend thinks any food with a label saying it’s expired or "best used by" a certain date should be thrown out. But are those foods still safe to eat?
A. Food freshness labels really can be confusing, making us wonder if we’ll get sick by eating something after it’s past its "sell by," "use by," or expiration date. But most of these dates aren’t actually warning us that the food will be spoiled at that point — only that it won’t maintain its best taste and texture by then.
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