FAQs about Definitions

Shelf Life Advice answers many frequently asked questions about food storage and safety, such as food product dating, leftovers, food-borne illness, and more.

What does the term "shelf life" mean?

What do “sell by,” “best by/before,” “use by” and “expiration” mean?

Product dates falls into three main categories, two of which, unfortunately, overlap. Let’s see what each category actually means and why these may confuse the buyer.


1. “Sell by,” “pull by” or “purchase by”


Exactly what is meant by the phrase perishable food?

The word perishable is used to place food into three different categories.  Here’s how Susan Brewer, Ph.D., describes them:
1) perishable foods: These are characterized by rapid microbial or  enzymatic deterioration, so  refrigeration is required. 

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