January 22, 2022

Expert's Guide To Sell By Vs Best By

Does the product get harmful exactly after the expiration date? No! Or Yes! Why does sell by or best by dates matter? Don't worry! In this article you'll find a fully detailed comparison of sell by vs best by. And what's the difference between the two. Also, which one is more important for you sell by vs best by?


Once in a while in life you have two options with same importance and proportion. Which create a contrast situation. However you need to choose one. That's the same thing with sell by vs best by.

Both of them are equally important but the best always wins.

In this comparison article of sell by vs best by we help you out with that.

It is time to talk about sell by vs best by. In the Food industry, you often hear the terms “sell by” and “best by” used interchangeably.

What's the role of food products dating ?

The "Best if Used By" or the "Sell by" date is a stamp on packaging that tells the consumer how long a food can be stored, or consumed before it gets to its best quality. Besides giving you an idea of how long one product will last in your home refrigerator, it lets you plan for stocking up for certain dates on products.

A store brand may stay fresh longer than a name brand so consider stocking up now!

On many food product labels you will find a "best if used by" date. It is not required by law, but it is typical.


The purpose of the dating information on product packaging (other than identifying the best before date) is to use expiration dates as an indicator of when a product should be used or discarded instead of being thrown out prior to its 'expiration' time limit (based on laboratory testing and other methods). 

The 'Best if Used By' (or Best Before) date indicates that some food products remain safe to use even several days after their printed expiration dates. 

Does Federal Law Require Food Product Dating?

Although product dating may make it possible to control the shelf life of food products, federal law does not require manufacturers or retailers to use either type of date. Federal regulations do require that meats, poultry and egg products be labeled with the "Use By" dates required for other types of foods such as milk and eggs.

Is It Safe to Use Food Product Dates?

The use-by/sell-by dates on food products are generally determined by a laboratory analysis performed at one of several national facilities ( inspected annually).

Sometimes a substance in a food can develop problems after reaching an indicated usage period . In general, a food product as sold and handled should be safe to use after its usage period. That is not always the case; there are many examples of foods that have been recalled due to contamination (such as salmonella) after their times had expired or were past 'use by' dates for some people's tastes and health concerns.

Food Dating Regulation

In the United States, there is a federal statute called the Federal Meat Inspection Act , which requires that all retail products be labeled and dated.  

Most foods are regulated by local agencies or state governments as well.  State laws usually set their own dates and require label information on all food sold to consumers within their borders, often tied with other regulations such as nutrition labeling requirements. 

Food dating in Canada is governed by section 2 of the Food Labelling Regulations under part III of Schedule I, which lists standards and procedures for  getting certain consumer products that should have a use-by date or best by.

The Difference 

Confusion clarified!

The term 'use by' was adopted when it became imperative to remove eggs from grocery stores in time for the following meals. 

Since that time, the date stamp on eggs has been regulated primarily by law in order to provide an orderly transition into distribution channels where other consumers would be better able to use each product while it had its optimum freshness and taste. 

Since egg products are usually packaged in bulk, just before sale to retail stores and consumers the product is then inspected from a sanitation/hygiene viewpoint . 

By law, eggs must meet these quality standards if they say 'sell by' or best-by dates. 

Some of these superior measures can include temperature control , cleanliness of packaging materials (sanitized surfaces), adequate refrigeration for storage for prolonged periods, properly packed skids in order to minimize injuries by falling off transport trucks, and proper handling of the eggs during their journey. 

Sell by is more aimed towards the retailer's side. It is more retailer oriented.

However best by is a more customer oriented. And particularly assure ideal quality.

Common FAQs

1.How do I know if a product has expired or will expire soon?

It is difficult to answer this question because there are different types of products and different levels of expiry dates.

Some food items may expire on the day they were manufactured, while others will last longer.

Here are some general guidelines: 

• If you buy fresh produce like vegetables or fruit, they should have a date stamp that tells you when they were harvested. 

• If you buy processed foods such as canned soup or canned tuna, look for the use-by date on the can or package label. 

• Check for expiration dates on other packaged goods like cereal boxes and bottles of juice.

2.What is food safety and USDA?

Food safety watches food safety recalls reports foodborne illness research outbreaks public health resources for public health partners facts about foodborne illnesses and disease statistics safe handling of foods outbreak investigations drug resistant salmonella poultry and eggs emergencies nutritious meals healthy eating nutrition guidelines.

Food dates are used in many food products like dairy, frozen and refrigerated foods. A sell by date is not a safety issue but it does indicate the time to enjoy the freshness of your product. 

The USDA has restrictions on USDA codes for USDA marked code 

a. "best if used before" or within which days after opening when you can use the product optimally without risk of spoilage or contamination; 

b. "sell by", indicating how long packaged products must be displayed at labeling.

3.Does the product get harmful exactly after the expiration date?

The product does not get harmful exactly after the expiration date. 

However, it is still important to make sure that you consume the product within a short period of time before its expiry date.

If you keep your products for too long and use them after their expiry date, then they will be in an unsaleable condition.

4.Is Sell By Same as Best By?

The answer is no.

Sell by the means that the product is being sold at the same price from a store as it is from an online retailer. 

Best by, on the other hand, means that when a particular product reaches its best before date, it will be removed from sale and replaced with a new item.


I think that it all comes down to your personal preferences. I know how much I love knowing my food is fresh and not expired, even if there is a slight amount of difference in the flavor or texture.

On the other hand, others in our house are different and don’t seem to care whether their food has an “S” for sell-by, use by or best by on it. 

In fact, they eat foods that have this label regardless! After all…we work with them over at Eat By Date , making sure that families as well can get what they need when they need it!

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