How to Determine the Shelf Life of Foods

How to determine the shelf life of foods

Some of us keep a close eye on the packaging dates that indicate the shelf life of the food. Others, however, refer to them as not a particularly important warning, the neglect of which does not have clear consequences. Do we really need to be aware?

A report from the US Department of Agriculture shows that shelf life can be relatively conditional. If the label says “Use by …”, it is advisable to observe the limit of use for the product. However, the recommendation “Sell to …”, which is used in some countries, does not inform about the freshness of food.

It depends largely on how the product is stored. The food, stored in a fridge, will stay fresh much longer than the one left on the shelf.

When choosing what to buy, take note of where the product was placed, under what conditions it was stored, and compare it with the date of packaging.

Usually, this date indicates a short time before the actual spoilage of the product to avoid food poisoning. Here are some tips about how to determine the freshness of some common foods.


The ketchup will retain its quality for six months from the date of production if refrigerated. Keep a close eye on whether it smells weird and if it contains mold – if so, throw it away immediately!

Olive oil

Olive oil stays fresh for 18-24 months, whether refrigerated or not. It is recommended to keep it in cool and dark places. In hot weather, you can leave it in the refrigerator. In most cases, you will finish the bottle long before it spoils.


They remain edible for 3-5 weeks in the refrigerator and up to a year in a freezer. However, it is not advisable to deep freeze them when they are raw and in the shell. To ensure that you store them properly, avoid the classic refrigerator door location and leave them in the coolest part.

Pasteurized milk

It is usually consumed within one week after the expiry date. The surest sign, however, is the unusual smell or taste. Whatever it says on the pack, if the milk smells – don’t drink it!


Fruit milk lasts on average up to a week after expiration, studies show. If you have frozen it, let it thaw in the refrigerator and not in your sink.


An opened jar of mayonnaise is able to hold in the refrigerator for 2-3 months after the expiry date. The product becomes inedible when you see a change in its texture and color.


Pickles are specifically designed to survive long periods. They can be consumed about a year after they are prepared if refrigerated. The same applies to olives and capers.

Soy Milk

Despite common misconceptions, soy milk has the same durability as an ordinary one. It may last a maximum of one week after the date written on the packaging.

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