How Reliable Are the Expiration Dates on Spices?

Most spices come with "best by" dates instead of expiration dates, and the McCormick company suggests getting rid of bottled seasoning blends and spices after this. However, most spices are still good for several years after this date, making the date a suggestion rather than a necessity.

On the other hand, fresh spices are only good for about a week until they need to be discarded, except for fresh garlic which can last for four to six months. Most ground and dried spices are good for two to three years after their "best by" dates, including cinnamon, caraway seeds, black pepper and nutmeg.