This is how long you can keep your favorite foods for


Knowing how long you can safely keep food and drink can prevent illness. Food goes off quicker if it’s not stored correctly but when it is, it might last longer than you’d think. A quick look or smell will often be a good indication as to whether food is fine to consume but it’s not always reliable. Here’s our guide to how long your favorite foods should last and how to keep them safe according to the experts.




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In America, foods don’t have to have expiry dates. But when used, a use by date in the US means the last date the product is at peak quality (it is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula). Best by/before dates also indicate when a product will be of best flavor or quality, and is not a purchase or safety date. The sell by date is for store use only, telling staff how long to display the product for inventory management.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Keeper app says butter can freeze well and be kept frozen for nine to 12 months. In the fridge, shelf life is less, usually one to two months. It’s OK to ignore the best by date and use smell and taste as a guide though. Spoiled butter will taste unpleasantly rancid and you definitely won’t want to eat it. However it won’t give you food poisoning.




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Chocolate doesn’t go off in a harmful way unless it contains a fresh cream filling. Keep chocolate in a cool, dark place – big temperature fluctuations or high humidity make it bloom and it can become grainy. Milk and white bars last a year unopened in the pantry (six months if opened); dark chocolate up to a year after opening. Refrigeration extends this shelf life but always store in a sealed box so the chocolate doesn’t become tainted by strong smells in the fridge.​




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The National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers says different flours need treating differently. A spokesperson said: “White all-purpose/plain flour should be safe to use after the best before date as long as it has been stored correctly and there aren’t weevils in it. Wholemeal flour has oils that can go rancid, impacting the quality, so use it by its best before date. Self-raising flour also needs to be used by its best before date, or the power of the raising agent may be lost.”




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Beer can go off if it’s not stored properly or if it’s been exposed to heat. But if kept in a cool, dark place, expect beer to last up to nine months in a cupboard and up to two years in the fridge after its best by date. When opening a beer, if you don’t hear that familiar pssst sound and there’s no white foam, it’s an indication that the beer has gone flat and, quite possibly, off.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Hard-boiled eggs make a great snack or sandwich filling so it’s tempting to boil a few in advance and use them up during the week. But the US-based Egg Safety Center reminds us that hard-boiled eggs don’t last as long as fresh, as boiling makes the shells more porous. Refrigerate boiled eggs within two hours and keep them in a sealed container (peeled or unpeeled) for a maximum of a week.




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It’s perfectly fine to make a visual assessment of hard cheeses like Cheddar or Emmental. Registered nutritionist Angela Dowden says: “Mold can’t penetrate deep into hard cheese so it’s fine to just cut a few millimeters/quarter of an inch all around the mold and then tuck into the fresh cheese underneath.” The UK’s Good Housekeeping Institute recommends cheese is wrapped in waxed paper as it stops the cheese from drying out and prevents too much moisture build up.




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It’s a different story with soft cheeses such as brie, goats’ cheese or cottage cheese, which go off more rapidly. They generally last a week in the fridge but watch for deterioration. “If you see mold on top of a soft cheese, you can’t just cut or spoon it out and expect the rest will be safe. It’s best to ditch the lot,” says registered nutritionist Angela Dowden.




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Honey is one of the few foods that doesn’t spoil. Stored properly, this natural product can last indefinitely, although it does crystallize over time which gives it a cloudy appearance. If this happens, the flavor tends not to be affected. To change it back to its original appearance, place it in a bowl of warm water to break down the crystals.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


You’d think that ice cream would keep for a while, given that it’s a frozen product. But you’ll probably only get away with keeping it a couple of months after the best before date if there is one. It’s not a health hazard but ice crystals can form which affect the taste. This is especially the case after opening – always make sure to properly reseal and not leave out too long between servings.




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Homemade or fresh unpasteurized supermarket hummus (the sort you’ll find in the chiller cabinet) needs eating before the use by date if there is one (if there isn’t, the USDA Food Keeper app says eat within seven days). If you’re buying longer-life pasteurized hummus with preservatives, the seven days still applies but not until you open it.




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It’s a myth that this condiment is a common cause of food poisoning. According to Berkeley Wellness, the health information service from the University of California, although potato salad and tuna mayo might sicken you if left out in the heat at a picnic, it’s not the mayonnaise that’s the problem. Commercial mayonnaise contains pasteurized eggs and has acidic vinegar – the enemy of food borne bacteria – as a key ingredient. An opened jar can keep happily in the fridge for three months.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


It depends on the manufacturer but preserves such jellies and marmalade can last, once open and stored in the fridge, for up to a year. The higher in sugar the product, the longer it tends to last. Low-sugar or sugar-free jelly has a shorter fridge life by a couple of months. How you keep it also helps – contaminate sugary spreads with bits off the butter knife and they’ll spoil sooner.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Shop-bought popsicles are safe and edible as long as they taste and look good so you can pretty much ignore any best by date (as long as your freezer is at the correct temperature). If you make your own using fruit purée, yogurt or coconut milk, eat them sooner for peak freshness – within a month or two is fine.




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It’s best to take no risks with raw fish, ever. It’s very safe when made under hygienic conditions by expert chefs, but refrigerated sashimi or any type of sushi with a raw fish topping is only guaranteed to last for 24 hours maximum after preparation. Don’t push your luck eating it after this time.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


These delicious dry-cured meats come in sausage shapes that are sliced as and when required. They last longer than pre-sliced deli meat which only lasts a few days, chilled. Unopened, a salami or pepperoni sausage lasts indefinitely in the fridge. Once opened it will last two to three weeks. Store in a sealed container and if it feels or looks slimy to the touch, bin it.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The USDA says chicken is usually fine to eat for up to three to four days after refrigerating, as long as it is chilled and covered within a couple of hours of being cooked. Obviously it needs to still look and smell good too. Alternatively if you freeze chicken the day it was cooked, it will stay with good eating quality for four to six months.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


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