Contrary to popular belief, the date that appears on food is neither its expiration date nor its date of packaging, but rather an FDA guideline to ensure freshness. Companies use this date in order to present the best possible product to their buyers.
Canned food is typically safe to eat long after the "use by" date printed on its packaging. It is important to check that cans are not dented, rusted, bulging or otherwise compromised. Smelling the food to check for freshness is a good final safety test, says NPR.Learn more about Food Spoilage