Following directions can be difficult (and sometimes confusing), particularly when it comes to following use-by dates on packaged foods. Are you a fly-by-the-seat- of-your-pants person or are you a stickler about sticking to those dates?

We looked at a variety of sources to do a bit of use-by-date decoding. Then, we turned to our trusty experts to see where they stand when we asked them: Do you always follow use-by dates?  The answers may surprise you…or maybe not!

“We try to be as safe as possible with our food, so we always toss perishables by their use-by date. We have, however, heard that eggs are the one thing that you can keep past their date — so we tend to be a little less strict about those!” – Editors at Food52

“I generally follow dates for vulnerable foods, such as packaged hummus, but I have found many preserved foods that continue to pose no threat and are palatable beyond their expiration dates.”Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian

“No, I use my senses to let me know if something is off.”Melissa Clark, food columnist for the New York Times and cookbook author

“No. It depends on the food. Storage and temperature conditions can extend the life of the food. When it comes to really risky foods though, like deli potato salad, I follow the use-by dates.”Michelle Dudash, RDN and chef consultant

“I usually don’t have to unless it’s dairy because we make so much from scratch.  But, I think those dates are usually pretty generous so I recommend following them.”Ana Sortun, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author

“I do with milk and cream but I fudge a little with eggs.  Well I take that back… My husband grew up on a chicken farm where they sold eggs.  He’s kind of a stickler about respecting the dates on egg cartons and always talks about how they used to make a hole in the fresh eggs when they were kids and he and his brother would suck the fresh egg out of the shell.  He said the flavor was super sweet.  I decided that if I went beyond the use-by date, the eggs wouldn’t be sweet anymore.  Plus I love buying fresh eggs at the farmer’s market.  They taste so much better!”Joan Weir, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author

After hearing where the experts stand now we want to hear from you:  do you follow use-by dates?

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