RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With COVID-19 still affecting large segments of the population, knowing if you are infected with the virus remains critical and many still rely on home test kits. 

However, those kits have expiration dates which may pass before you ever use them. 

Now we’re learning those expiration dates may not be accurate because they came too early. 

If you check your test kit and find its expired, don’t be so quick to toss it out because it still may be good to use. But it depends on the brand. 

Many of the tests kits sent out for free by the government during the beginning of the program had expiration dates of about six months. 

Ann Ussery is one consumer who never checked the expiration date on her free test kit. 

“It’s still on the shelf,” she said.

The FDA certifies that home test kits be good for between four to six months. But, like so much that has changed as we learned more about COVID-19, so have the shelf-lives of certain tests. 

Makers of those test kits have been doing their own research, and that new data indicates some brands will be accurate well past the expiration date. 

If the test kit maker can prove to the FDA the shelf life is good beyond the original expiration date, the agency authorizes extended shelf life. Those extended dates vary. 

After consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia told Ussery about that, she said she would check her test kit and also see if the expiration date has been extended. 

Here’s how to tell if your test kit is still good beyond the original expiration date. 

The FDA has a list showing which tests are still good, and for how long. So far, its approved 22 brands. 

If your test kit is not on the list of extended expiration dates, you should not assume it’s OK and still use it.  

The FDA warns using an expired kit will create problems because most likely its components have degraded and you won’t get accurate results.