Food Freshness at the Food Shelf
What are these “use by” or “best by” or “expires on” dates?
Companies use these dates to tell us when they think foods are at highest quality. However, these dates don’t matter when it comes to food safety (except for infant formula).1 Many foods are great long after these dates, especially packaged items like pasta and canned fruit.
Where does the Food Shelf get food from?
At our Food Shelf, we buy many foods straight from food warehouses and food banks. Other foods come to us in good condition from grocery stores but are nearing the end of their usefulness. Another portion of our goods come from community donations.
What does the Food Shelf do to check for food safety?
We change up our stock daily to get you the best variety possible. Our team of volunteers and staff inspect all items for large dents, tears, labeling, coloring, freshness, and more. We use the guidelines from Second Harvest and the USDA to determine how long to keep refrigerated and frozen items.
What does that mean for you?
When you get home, it’s best to look over all items to see which you may like to use first. Getting you high quality and fresh food is incredibly important to us. You can also check out the links below for more resources on food storage, quality, and safety information. (Note: some resources are for retail spaces and others for consumer households.)
1 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)