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Expiration dates are weird and potentially dangerous! What's the difference between Best By, Use By, and Sell By?! Will that old battery explode, or those leftovers give you food poisoning?! Find out in this video, as we explore the bizarre and twisty world of expiration dates.

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Created by:
Emma Mills & T. Michael (Mike) Martin
Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including
Indiebound ( ) and Amazon: (

Hosted by:
Emma Mills

Written by:
Thomas Frank (
& T. Michael Martin

Edited by:
Nathan Talbott

Directed by:
T. Michael Martin

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green

Still Tasty’s database:
(How to Adult Intro plays)

Emma: Hey.  Did you know the universe has an expiration date?  Well, sort of.  Certain theories suggest that sometime around 10 to the power of 100 years into the future, every particle in the universe will spread out so much that they will be unable to interact.  The universe will essentially be expired.  Since this is How to Adult, and not CrashCourse Astronomy, let's talk about something that's a little more relevant to you, namely, expiration dates on the products you use every day.

First we need to understand what expiration dates actually are.  Except in one special case which we'll get back to a little bit later, expiration dates are set by the manufacturer, they're not mandated by the government.  In addition, these dates don't always have to do with food safety, they're often about the quality of the product.  After the printed date, the manufacturer can no longer guarantee that it meets their standards. 

There are also several different types of date labels that you'll see.  Use-by, best if used by, best before, these are all generic nonstandard labels used by manufacturers to indicate how long a product will stay at a level of quality they set.  If you store these products properly, you can usually use them after the best by date. 

Sell by is a label that you'll find on perishables such as meat and dairy.  This date is meant for the seller, and it tells them how long they can have a product out for sale.  You should buy these products by the sell by date, but you can usually use them for a certain period of time afterward.  This varies from product to product. 

Expires on is something you'll most likely see on baby food or on formula, because this is that special case that I was talking about earlier.  The federal government actually requires these items to have a strict expiration date, and you should definitely follow it if you have a baby or if you are a baby, in which case, congratulations on being able to understand this video.

Now that you know the differences between label types, let's go over some generally accepted dates for common foods.  Eggs, 3-5 weeks after you've bought them, the date on the carton indicates when they should be sold by.  Also, you can actually freeze them so that they'll keep longer.  Is this true?  Do you freeze eggs?  Let us know in the comments section below. 

Mike: In a home freezer, you can freeze eggs for up to one year. 

Emma: Wow!

Mike: Yeah.

Emma: And then just thaw them?

Mike: You thaw them overnight.

Emma: Okay.

Mike: Or under running cold water and you can use egg yolks or whole eggs as soon as they're thawed.

Emma: Wow!  Milk, one week after the sell by date, or up to three months if you freeze it.  Put it in an airtight container and it'll keep longer. 

Coffee, if you buy whole bean coffee, it'll last three weeks in the paper bag.  For pre-ground coffee, you've got about a week.

Frozen veggies, 1.52 years if the bag is unopened.  Is that a typo or is it really 1.52 years? 

Mike: Oh, it's 1.5 to 2 years.

Emma: Okay, there's no dashes in this script.  Frozen veggies, 1.5-2 years, if the bag is unopened, and one month if the bag is opened. 

A website called StillTasty maintains an entire database of expiration information about almost every food you could think of, so check the link in the Dooblydoo below if you wanna see about a certain item.  

You can also figure out whether food is expired by using your senses.  Sight, smell, and common. 

But food is not the only thing, of course, that expires.  Batteries.  They'll generally keep for around 10 years after they're manufactured.  For normal batteries, you can find an expiration date either on the package or right on the battery itself.  For special types like button, cell, and rechargeable, though, you probably won't find a date.

Bleach expires after about a year, ditto for dish detergent. 

Fire extinguishers can go bad but before I talk about that, do you even have one?  If not, pause this video and go get one right now, I'll be here chillin'.  Each month, check your extinguisher's pressure gauge.  If it's in the green, you're good.  If not, replace it.  Also, check the hose and nozzle for damage, and make sure that the handle isn't wobbly and that the pin is not missing. 

Motor oil is usable for up to 3-5 years if unopened, and about 3 months if opened. 

Oh, and for those of you stocking up for the Zombieland apocalypse, Twinkies do expire after 45 days, contrary to Woody Harrison's belief. 

Just remember, we've got your back, even after the world ends, which is probably when we're gonna tell you that catchphrase, friends.  It rhymed.