top of page

Everything You Know About Expiration Dates is Wrong!

cans of soda and other drinks in display boxes in FARSB warehouse.

Look at a can, look at the date… expired? TRASH! I mean, who would dare eat expired food?

Well, what if we told you that the food you just threw away was still good? That’s right. Perfectly edible food down the tube.

Sadly, you’re not the only one. According to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ninety percent of Americans misinterpret the dates on labels, whether it’s a “sell by,” “best if used by,” or “use by” label. Despite these labels you see, there are no federal regulations regarding the dates, (with an exception to baby formula). These dates are simply the manufacturer’s best guess on the item’s freshness, which is often times, very conservative.

These labels you see are a huge contributor to food waste in the U.S. In fact, according to Feeding America National Organization (FANO), $218 billion dollars worth of food is thrown away each year by manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, and everyday shoppers.

With all of the food being wasted, there are still over 41 million food-insecure people in America. If we all took the time to educate ourselves about those very labels and the ability we have to still consume items shortly after the expiration date, we could slowly, but surely reduce food waste and contribute to a more livable, sustainable, and food-rich community.

With the current state of the economy, and more recently, the government shutdown (that put over 800,000 workers in crisis mode), there is a great need to save money and resources while ensuring that families don’t feel like they are left without options when there are plenty of resources available.

Below is a list of categories that you can use to determine if what’s in your pantry is still safe to consume today, tomorrow, and maybe even next month!

3 months Juice

3 months Soft Drinks

3 months Snacks

3 months Candy (non-Hershey brand)

6 months Complete Meals (instant ramen, boxed mac & cheese)

6 months Cereal and oatmeal

6 months Baking Products

6 months Coffee and tea

1 year Canned Vegetables

1 year Condiments

1 year Oil

1 year Soups

1 year Canned Fruits

1 year Proteins with & without meat

1 year Starches

Whether you are directly affected by financial hardships, know someone who might need a little help, or just simply want to #stopfoodwaste, be sure to share this list with friends, family, and colleagues today!

For additional information on your local Inland Empire food bank, visit


bottom of page