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Food storage life

A product’s storage life is the period of time when it still has all its original properties: freshness, taste and nutritional value. The product is safe and poses no health risks. It also retains all other properties determined by the manufacturer.

A food’s label or packaging will indicate its expiry date, often called the best before date.

Eating food after the expiry date

Food may change after the best before date. It might lose freshness, the taste or texture might change and the nutritional value might decrease (for example, lower vitamin C content).

Perishable foods are those that change more easily, such as fish or fresh meat. To avoid health risks, these foods should be eaten before the best before date.

All the same, there are many foods you can safely eat even after their expiry date has passed.

Low-risk perishable foods

Some perishable foods have lower health risks when stored under proper conditions to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

These foods can be eaten after the best before date. You can extend their life by using them in cooked dishes or cakes.


  • Whole fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dressings, marinades, oils and margarine
  • Yogurt and kefir
  • Firm or hard cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, etc.)
  • Processed cheese products
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Baked goods

Frozen or non-perishable foods

These foods do not carry health risks, even after their expiry date.


  • Dry cereal
  • Canned goods
  • Frozen meat
  • Condiments

Food that should be thrown out after their expiry date

Avoid consuming certain foods after their expiry date has passed.

Perishable foods

Below are some examples of perishable foods that should not be eaten after their expiry date. They may harbour harmful bacteria.


  • Fresh meat
  • Fresh fish
  • Seafood and smoked fish
  • Deli meat
  • Refrigerated sauces
  • Soft cheeses
  • Pasta salad
  • Hummus
  • Sprouts and microgreens

Watch out! Be extra careful with smoked fish This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) and cooked deli meats, like smoked ham and sausages.

You should also be careful with pasteurized refrigerated products like soups and sauces.

These products can be harmful even when they don’t taste or smell any different.

However, if perishable foods have reached their best before date but not yet passed it, you can still cook them so you don’t have to throw them out. For example, raw meat can be safely cooked, and then it will keep for a few more days in the refrigerator. 

Expiration date

Infant formula and formulated liquid diet products have an expiration date instead. Once this date has passed, the nutritional content listed on the label may not be accurate. Do not consume them at that point.

Artisanal products

Artisanal products may be less protected against harmful bacteria. Ask the manufacturer for product storage information.

Food removed from its packaging

Remember that the best before date applies to food in unopened packaging. Once the food has been taken out of its packaging or cut into, its storage time shortens.

Some products that are considered non-perishable at the time of purchase become perishable products as soon as they are opened (for example, canned goods or pasteurized juices).


Tip for checking food quality

Use your senses to assess a food’s quality. Check for any unusual smell, colour, texture or taste.

Last update: April 2, 2024


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