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Food Safety Issues/Pre-cooked chicken meatballs use by date


I have a sealed package of chicken meatballs in the refrigerator. The use by date was 7 days ago. Should I toss them or will they be ok to cook for dinner?

Hi Carolyn,

The "use by" date on meat products is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak
quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product and refers to quality, not safety.

With that said, the recommendation for cooked meat products is to either use or freeze the product by the "use by" date for both safety and quality.  Since your product is 7 days past the recommended use by date, and given that you can't tell by sight, smell or taste if the product is still safe to consume, the recommendation is to not take a chance and pitch the meatballs.

A good reference on product dating that you might want to read to help with future questions on food dating, please see:


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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