Foods You Absolutely CANNOT Eat Past Their Expiration Date

food expiration

Listen. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, a yogurt just gets pushed back in the fridge and suddenly turns into the only food you want when it resurfaces a month later. Often, you don’t even remember buying orange juice, but the bad cold that sprung up calls for nothing else. Personally, there’s a grocery store a few streets away from me that sells crab claws at a cheap price. And, well, more than once I’ve eaten a questionable claw just because it’s crab. If you’re like me, your Google history also includes a lot of sentences like, “Is it safe to eat two-week-old hard boiled eggs?” (Answer: no.)

Expiration dates are on most of the products we use and consume. Sometimes, they’re very important — and can lead to (serious) illness if not followed. Other times, they’re more or less…guide rails. Consuming the expired foods (probably) won’t kill you, but it might not taste the absolute best.

Here are some of the most important foods where expiration literally means everything. Unless, y’know, you’re looking forward to a massive stomachache in your future.

1. Raw meat

This one’s a biggie, and one of the reasons why you should bow down to your freezer. Meat, fish, and poultry can last for months after being frozen, but start turning after just a few days in the fridge. According to, poultry and seafood barely make it half as long as chops or already cooked meat. That means it’s important to learn when your meat was packed, and plan ahead for when it’ll be served as dinner.

2. Milk

Have a toddler at home? I do. And let me tell you, the worst thing in the entire world is a sippy cup that accidentally rolled under the couch days earlier. Even the most observant of moms have had this happen before. The result? Not pretty. In general, when properly refrigerated (that means, on a shelf and not in the door) milk is good a few days past its sell-by date. But it’s a product you really don’t want to take chances with. Expired milk forms bacteria that can lead to a bunch of stomach issues and food poisoning. If you’re a day past the date and things are starting to smell off, trust your gut. Literally.

3. Infant formula

While it does a great job nourishing your baby, baby formula is kind of a pain to deal with. Aside from the expense, it also needs to be properly stored. That means the lid always has to be sealed, and the expiration date always needs to be adhered to. And after being opened, it’s a ticking time bomb on how long you can use it. Remember, your infant’s immune system isn’t that strong, and they can’t actually tell you that something tastes funny. But oh wow, if they could.

4. Deli meat

Speaking of infants, one of the key things that pregnant women need to avoid is deli meat. Listeria is a very real and very serious health condition that often sprouts from bad deli meat. Expiration dates are especially important to follow when deli meat is concerned, as you don’t want to take any risks. And by the way, your ham will expire much quicker than your cheese.

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