Information on Shelf Life of Food Bank Products

Shelf Stable Items Past Code
Many of the shelf-stable items you receive are donated and may be past code dates (sell by date, use by date, etc.).  It is safe to eat these foods.  Check with your Pantry Coordinator for the safe window of time for different foods.

Frozen Food
You will often receive meat that is past code date.  This meat was frozen before code date and is therefore safe to eat.  Before cooking meat, be sure to thaw completely and never thaw at room temperature.

Fresh Produce
Often, produce from the Food Bank may not be “perfect”.  However, it is okay to eat with a bit of preparation.  For example, if the lettuce is brown on the edges, you can tear off the edges and still have a full head of lettuce.  Soft spots can be cut off so you can enjoy the rest!

Do not consume food from cans or jars if:

  • Container is leaking or stained
  • Container is swollen
  • Container is badly dented, crimped or pinched
  • Container is cracked
  • Lids are loose or missing
  • Safety seals are broken or missing
  • Container is rusty
  • Foul odor exists
  • Food exhibits changed color or odor

Do not eat food from boxes if:

  • Bag inside is torn or leaking
  • Bag inside has moldy or foreign objects inside
  • Bag inside has ripped seals
  • Is open or torn
  • Has live or dead insects, webs or droppings
  • Is stained or wet

For longest life of foods:

  • Keep shelf stable products in a clean, dry and cool place
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower
  • Keep your freezer at 0 degrees F

Remember for all foods:

For more information on shelf life of specific foods, please click here.
©2006 Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  Printed with permission.