How Long Does Bread Last After Sell By Date – Can You Eat It?

Oftentimes expiration dates are a guideline and not a strict rule.

Except for fresh products that aren’t packaged, virtually all food products are marked with some type of expiration date giving you an idea in which period they should be eaten.

Bread is a staple food in many kitchens and has been eaten worldwide for many, many years.

So, how long does bread last after the sell-by date mark, can you eat it after that period and how you can prolong its shelf life, all these questions are answered here.

What Does Sell-by Date Mean?

First, let’s check what different labels on the bread mean. You’ll notice that some products have a “use by”, “expiration date”, “sell by” or “best by”.

stored bread

Well, all these terms reference the quality of the food and not safety, but they still should be considered important. So they serve as a guideline and provide a general estimate regarding when the food is at its peak quality.

  • Use By Date – This date represents the last day recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.
  • Expiration Date – It is the last date that the product is considered fresh. After that date, the product is still safe to consume, but not long after that period.
  • Sell-by Date – This date tells the store how long they can display the food product. After that date, food is still safe, but its quality won’t be that good.
  • Best By Date – Also, this date refers to food quality, and represents the best flavor and quality of the food.

Of course, the period after the expiration date when food actually goes bad depends on the bread itself. If certain bread contains a lot of carbs, protein and moisture, it’s more at risk of bacteria growth. Also, it’s very important to store the food properly.

How Long After Sell-by Date Is Bread Still Good?

Many factors influence the shelf life of bread (like eggs and milk) and its after-sell-by-date life, so it isn’t easy to be specific about the exact time you can eat it.

According to the sell-by date, you can eat bread for three to five days after opening. As a general rule, it’s best to consume bread by 3 days after the sell-by date.

After that period, you should be very careful and check signs of spoilage. You can eat the bread as long as there aren’t visible mold and fungus.

toaster on the countertop

How To Make It Safer For Eating?

If you have a loaf of stale bread with an expired sell-by date, you can make a toast. The heat will kill bacteria if it’s there, so you can eat your bread safely. Actually, toasting is a great method of making stale bread more delicious. You can use a toaster or toaster oven. Also, you can make crackers or breadcrumbs.

Risks Of Eating Expired Bread

Some types of mold are safe to consume, but it’s hard to tell which fungus caused the mold. So, it’s best not to eat moldy bread, it could harm your health.

Some molds produce mycotoxins, which are poisoned and can be dangerous to inhale and eat. They can cause digestive issues, disrupt your gut bacteria, weaken your immune system and increase the risk of illness. You definitely want to avoid these things.

How To Tell If The Bread Has Gone Bad?

To determine whether your bread is fresh or spoiled, you should examine it yourself. Check out these indicators that will tell you about bread freshness.

  • Mold – If you see mold on your bread, you should discard it. Mold is a fungus that absorbs nutrients in bread and grows spores. You can find green, white, black or even pink spots on your bread.
  • mold

  • Unpleasant Smell – Maybe you can’t see mold, but notice a bad smell, it’s still best to throw out the bread. But if there is visible mold, don’t smell the bread, because the spores are harmful to inhale.
  • bad smell

  • Strange Taste – If the bread doesn’t taste right, it’s best to throw it.
  • bad taste

  • Hard Texture – If you didn’t seal or store the bread properly, it will become stale or dry. If there is no mold, the bread can be eaten, but its taste won’t be the best.

Storage Methods

There are a few storage methods you can use to keep your bread fresh for a longer time. We mentioned four ways – fridge, plastic bags, bread boxes and freezer.


Refrigeration can really increase the shelf life of your bread (both commercial and homemade bread) by 3 to 5 days. If you want to store your bread in the fridge, you should seal it properly. That will prevent drying and moisture.


Bread Boxes

Use bread boxes to protect your bread from sunlight. These boxes have small holes to allow air circulation and prevent mold.

Plastic Bags

Keep the bread dry and cover it to protect the bread from spores in the air. Also, you can store it in an air-tight plastic bag at room temperature. If your bakery bread is sold in a paper bag, remove it from that bag and wrap it tightly in cling film and leave it at room temperature.

plastic bag for bread


If you want to extend bread’s shelf life, store it in the freezer. It’s true, it will lose some freshness and flavor, but it’s safe to eat. Wrap it tightly in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer.

Unlike refrigerators, freezers do stop bacteria from growing, so food stored in the freezer is technically safe to eat. But the most important question when it comes to freezing food is not if it’s safe, but it’s about the taste.

The more bread stays frozen, the more its quality goes down. But if you decide to freeze it, you should know that frozen bread can last up to 6 months.

When you want to defrost it, leave the bread in the refrigerator overnight.

Tips For Preventing Bread Waste

If you want to avoid discarding old bread, there are some ideas you can try. It is important to note that scraping off mold isn’t recommended.

  • You can make homemade croutons, crackers, and breadcrumbs
  • Store bread leftovers in your freezer
  • If there is moisture inside the bread packaging, use a clean kitchen towel and dry it before storing
  • Wait to cover or seal freshly baked bread, until it’s cool down completely
  • Calculate how much bread do you eat in a week and only buy that amount

To Wrap It Up

When it comes to consuming bread after its sell-by date period, there really are no hard-and-fast rules to follow. Also, bread’s shelf life depends on its ingredients and storage method, so you should keep all these things in mind before consumption.

As an English major student at the time, Petra was stuck at home with online classes when the lockdown started. Soon enough, Petra discovered a passion for cooking and making pastries to pass the time. She started small with some experimenting and trying out new techniques inspired by French, Italian, and Asian cuisine. Since then, she has become a full-blown “little chef”, making dinner parties for her friends and expanding her knowledge with cooking classes.