Can you eat frozen food past the expiration date?

Before freezing a food you must make sure to check its expiration date, it must be within the indicated limits. And that it has not been previously thawed.

If you notice that the expiration date of frozen food has passed, you should not buy it. And if you frozen it within the period before the expiration date, you should question whether that food is safe to consume.

In general, you can consume a food in good condition that you frozen when it was still within the expiration date and after freezing for a time it passes the indicated date. However, in some cases the quality of the product in terms of flavor, color or texture may be reduced.

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Frozen Food Expiration Dates

In the US, the food industry adds dates to products to indicate freshness, but labeling standards vary from country to country.

In general, freezing food will keep it safe to eat long after its expiration date, if proper freezing techniques are followed.

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Look on the label for legends like:

-“Best if used by”

Indicates that it is better that the product is consumed before the indicated date to maintain its quality.

-“Sell by”

It refers to the date that the store should try to sell the product to maintain its flavor and quality.


The date when it is desirable for the food to be frozen to maintain its flavor and quality.

These dates are not expiration dates and do not refer to the fact that they are not safe for consumption, they only indicate that the products, if consumed after the indicated date, may lose quality and flavor.

Frozen foods are an excellent way to preserve shelf life and maintain nutritional value, quality and flavor.

Unlike perishable foods stored in the refrigerator or refrigerator, frozen foods can usually be used after the “used by date.” Holding food at 0°F (-18°C) inactivates microbes (bacteria) that could cause spoilage.

Although frozen foods can be eaten even after the stated date and may be safe to eat; some may decrease in quality and flavor if they spend too much time in the freezer.

Likewise, it is important not to exceed the recommended freezing time for each food or product.

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-Frozen raw meat and poultry, how long?

Raw meat and poultry will keep well beyond their stated expiration dates if frozen.

If raw meat or raw poultry is frozen while it was within the date, it can be kept frozen longer even after the date.”sell by” if it was frozen properly and if previous handling was favourable.

According to US Food Safetyand frozen ground beef can be frozen for up to 4 months and whole raw chicken or turkey for up to a year.

-Raw fish, how long in the freezer?

If you want to keep the fish longer, keep it in the freezer. It can even be consumed even after the date “Eat by” if it freezes before. It can be kept between 6 to 9 months if you freeze it.

Smoked fish can be kept 3-6 months in the freezer and commercial frozen fish (packaged) can be kept frozen for up to 10-12 months if not thawed beforehand and is within the expiration date stated on the package.

-Frozen fruits and frozen vegetables, how long?

Unopened packages of commercial frozen fruits and frozen vegetables can be consumed even after 8 to 10 months from the printed date.

Always check the product before its appearance, color, smell and other organoleptic characteristics will give you the guideline. Even a food can be spoiled and not be noticed with the naked eye.

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It is always important to take into account the product, the previous food handling and the freezing method that is appropriate.

Always remember to assess “risk vs benefit”, if you have doubts, it is better to discard a product before consuming it. Your health and safety comes first.

Source: US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Food Safety.

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