One of the most common questions we get here at L&J Foods is about the difference between “use by”, “best before”, and “expiry date” on food labels. It’s a valid question, and one that can help reduce food waste and ensure food safety. Here’s a quick and easy guide to the difference between these three terms.
When it comes to food, there are three key dates that you need to be aware of: use by, best before, and expiry date. But what do these dates actually mean? And how do they impact food waste and food safety?
Use by dates are the most important, as they indicate when a food will no longer be safe to eat. Foods that are past their use by date are more likely to cause food poisoning, as the microorganisms that cause food to spoil may have had more time to grow, multiply and infiltrate the food. Use by dates are more about food safety. It is advisable to not use food after the “use by” date.
Best before dates, on the other hand, are about quality rather than safety. Foods that are past their best before date will not necessarily be unsafe to eat, but they may have lost some of their freshness. Before this date, the food is fresh and in a very good condition. From this date onwards, that food may not be in the best of conditions. The decision is now yours to make – to eat it or not. You may still go ahead and eat it or maintain it in some form, say refrigeration. This helps reduce food waste.
Expiry dates are about safety. This is the date after which the food may no longer be safe to eat. After this date, it is advisable to not consumer the food. That food may have lost its texture, effectiveness, taste or some other property that makes it unique.
So, which should you trust ON A FOOD LABELS?
The answer is simple: all three. You need to be aware of these three dates and think of how long you are storing your supplies when doing grocery shopping. But there is one thing to note, when you handle and store food products as instructed on the product, you may even be able to use it after the dates indicated do it. This helps you to reduces more food waste and also ensure your safety.