All of the dates we see on food labels can be so confusing. If you are like me, then they all mean the same whether it says, "sell-by", "use-by" or "best-by".

Experts say the best defense is your sense of smell. If it smells then toss it. But, if you are like me then sometimes it's hard to tell.

According to the website ift.org, here is the difference between "sell-by", "use-by" and "best-by":

Use-By Date
You should use the product by the date on the label. That said, the date is more of a quality indicator than a health indicator. Food consumed after the use-by date won't taste as good. Unless it is a very long time after the use-by date, chances are you won't get sick eating it.

Sell-By Date
This label is aimed at retailers, who should either sell the product by the date on the label or remove it from their shelves. But this does not mean the product is unsafe to eat after the sell-by date. Typically, one-third of a product's shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

Best-By Date
This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

Hopefully that clarifies things for you a little.

[via: ift.org]