Only foods such as Grade A dairy products (fluid milk, butter, and cultured items), baby formula and wrapped sandwiches are required by law to have a sell by date. Eggs may be included, but I can't remember. It has been six years since I retired. Did you notice that meats are not included?
Some states Departments of Agriculture or Food Safety Agencies do require that should a manufacturer provide a "use by date" that that product so noted be pulled from sale on the date of expiration.
Any canned goods that show rust, bulged cans, dented cans on the seam etc. should be discarded.
Bulged cans are an indication of a gas forming anerobe bacterium which could be clostridium botulina. Botulism food poisioning is quite often deadly so anything showing even the slightest amount of bulging must be discarded.
Bottled water should be stored in a dark area away from light. Bottled water is not sterile only distilled water. Do not use old milk jugs to store water for long term use.
If you store foods for long term a good policy is to date them with the date of purchase and then rotate them at least every two or three years with new product. Canned foods do exhibit some deterrioration in flavor during long storage but not microbial quality.
Remember that dried goods--grits, flour, meal, cereals, etc. are subject to insect infestations. Unknowingly place one infested product into your larder and everything will get buggy.
Last edited by Silvertip 44; 01-22-2012 at 07:03 PM.