So the USDA lists that a person should consume ground beef if it's been in the fridge for 1-2 days.

If we purchased the beef Tuesday afternoon (and today is Thursday) obviously it should be fine if it's been sitting in the fridge since.

However this made me think...do they not count the time it's been sitting at the grocery store? I mean it's not frozen then and Im guessing they don't "throw out" what is bought so...how is it safe to eat if it's sitting in "refrigerator temps" at the grocery store for probably more tha n 1-2 days?

  • 1
    Anything fresh has a 'sell by' date &/or a 'best before' date. They have to sell it before the first, you eat it before the second. That's why on the day their sell by runs out, you can get it cheaper.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 14:48
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    @Tetsujin "best before" and "sell by" dates actually have no legal force in US states I'm familar with. Stores are required to discard food past its "use by" date if any is listed (since the food is then considered unsafe), but the other two are considered just suggestions (the first for the customer, the second for the store). That's why "use by" dates have become so uncommon these days.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 15:03
  • IIRC, there was a mini scandal a number of years ago when it turned out that some grocery stores were replacing the "sell by" labels on meat after the first "sell by" date approached, which was clearly shady but not actually illegal.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 15:05
  • @Sneftel In the US, a 'use by' date is not considered a safety date for anything except infant formula. For all other products it is a quality date like a 'best by' date.
    – Cindy
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 15:40
  • @Cindy I don't think that's true. Retail food is mostly regulated by states, not federally, but I randomly checked the law for Delaware and Wisconsin and both require retailers to discard food after the manufacturer's "use by" date.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


They do count that, yes. Food safety regulations are targeted towards the worst case scenario. If the meat in question is old enough that the store is about to throw it away, and the store's refrigerator wasn't quite as cold as it was supposed to be, and it sat in a hot car on the way home, and your refrigerator is not quite cold enough either, then 1-2 days should still be okay.

  • Thats good to know. It was pretty fresh as far as sell by date
    – Mercfh
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 17:23

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