Is It Safe To Eat Food Past Its 'Best Before' Date?

We waste far too much food in the UK.

18/10/2016 11:54

When it comes to food waste, the UK is one of the worst perpetrators in Europe, wasting 15 million tonnes each year.   

While half of waste comes from supermarkets, farms and manufacturers, the other half is believed to come from homes where food has been thrown away because it has passed its expiration date, according to Al Jazeera.

But could we be wasting fewer food items by taking a different approach to expiration dates?

In the UK, most products have use-by dates, sell-by dates and best before dates, which can cause confusion. 

Dan Cluderay runs Approved Food, which sells food that is nearing or past it’s best before date at reduced prices. He said: “There’s a generation of people who think the best before date and use-by date are the same thing.”

If you’re one of them, here’s what you need to know.

What is a best before date?

According to Sophie Medlin, a lecturer in nutrition and dietetics, the ‘best before’ label refers to the quality of the food. 

“You may not enjoy the product so much after the best before date,” she said.

“It might have depreciated in quality, so something that should have been crunchy might be a bit softer than you’d like it to be.

“But it’s certainly still safe to eat, maybe up to a month or so after its use-by date.” 

What is a use-by date?

According to Love Food Hate Waste, these dates refer to safety.

“Food can be eaten up to the end of this date but not after even if it looks and smells fine,” the website reads. “Always follow the storage instructions on packs.”

What is a sell by date?

A display until or sell by date label should be ignored, as they are for shop staff not for shoppers.

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