You open up the cupboard and check the date at the top of the can… It’s two months past it – so you toss it. But before you judge a can by its date make sure you know what it actually means!

If you’ve tossed a food item because it is past the date printed, you are not alone. According to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ninety percent of Americans misinterpret the dates on labels, whether it’s a “sell by,” “best if used by,” or “use by” label.

In fact, the ONLY food items that are required to have an expiration date, are infant formula and some perishable food items. So, here’s what you need to know to prevent food waste the next time you reach into your pantry.