How Long Will the Food in My Fridge Last?

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How Long Will the Food in My Fridge Last?

Find out how long different foods stay good in the fridge.


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Milk


Milk is typically safe for two to three days after the "use by" date. Keep it in the back of the fridge, where temperatures are usually coldest.


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Butter


Butter will keep for two to three weeks after purchase.


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Margarine


Margarine will last for four to six months after purchase.


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Eggs


Eggs are safe for three to five weeks after purchase. Keep them in the back of the fridge, where temperatures are typically coldest, rather than in the door.


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Chicken, Ground Meat & Ground Poultry


Chicken, ground meat and ground poultry will last for one to two days after purchase.


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Pre-Cooked Poultry


Pre-cooked poultry should keep for three to four days.


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Fish


Fish will last one to two days in the refrigerator after purchase.


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Lunch Meat


Lunch meat is safe for two to three weeks when it remains unopened. Use within three to four days after opening.


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Dry Pasta


Dry pasta will last for one to two years after purchase.


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Canned Fruits & Vegetables


Canned fruits and vegetables will last indefinitely. However, that rule goes out the window if they're exposed to freezing temperatures or temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And be wary of damaged, dented or rusty packaging.


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And for all other foods, read on to find out what expiration date stickers really mean.


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Sell By


"Sell By" indicates how long a store should display a product on its shelves. Foods are still safe to eat several days after this date if you store them properly.


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Expires


"Expires" is the only packaging date related to food safety. If this date has passed, throw the food out.


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Use By


"Use By" is the last date for peak quality. After this date, taste, texture and quality may go downhill. It does not refer to food safety.


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Best If Used By


The product will be freshest and have the best taste and texture if you eat it by this date. It does not refer to food safety.


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You're not alone if you've stood in your kitchen holding a container of milk or a package of chicken breasts and weren't sure whether you should toss them or eat them. That's because it's not always so obvious what the difference is between the various expiration dates—from "sell by" to "best if used by."

Federal law does not require food dating in most cases, but 20 states do have laws about dates. In many cases, manufacturers add dates voluntarily. Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy usually get dates. But they're not always about spoilage; some simply inform retailers when products are at their best for freshness, taste and texture.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how long food in the fridge lasts and what common expiration labels mean. Also, to clear up the confusion and help you avoid consuming tainted foods that can make you sick, we've decoded common expiration dates in this handy chart. Pin it and pass it on to educate your friends about food safety!

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