Many consumers often equate the best before date (BBD) with the use by date and, as a result, food that has passed its BBD date is thrown away even though it is still perfectly good to eat. But if the BBD date has nothing to do with the use by date, what’s it for? Why do some foods not have a BBD? And how can food waste be avoided?


What does the best before date mean?

The best before date (BBD) guarantees certain product properties up to this date. If the BBD has expired, certain quality aspects of the product can be compromised, for example its vitamin content, colour or flavour may be somewhat diminished. However, this does not mean that the expired food no longer tastes good or that it is in any way harmful to consume. To decide whether food that has passed its BBD is still okay to eat, you should rely on your eyes, nose and taste. A product only needs to be discarded and not consumed if it tastes, smells or looks different, or if it takes on a strange consistency. The longer a product is durable according to its BBD (maybe months or even years), the longer it can still be enjoyed after this date has passed.

Can food still be sold with an expired BBD?

An expired BBD does not mean that food can no longer be sold. Shops often reduce the price of food that is approaching or has passed its BBD in order to sell it quickly. However, there is no legal requirement to do this; the retailer must simply check that the food is still in good condition. Even if buyers consciously purchase products that have passed their BBD, they still have the right to complain if they are not satisfied with the quality.

How does the BBD differ from the use by date?

Although people generally just talk about food ‘going out of date’, the best before date should actually be very clearly differentiated from the use by date. The use by date usually appears on the packaging of perishable foods that spoil quickly, like fish and meat produce. Once these pass their use by date, they should be thrown away immediately as it is no longer possible to guarantee that they will not be harmful to your health. The sale of food that has passed its use by date is therefore prohibited.

20% of shopping bags end up in the bin

Each year it is estimated each household in Australia throws away approximately $3800 worth of groceries – that is one in five shopping bags that end up in the bin (Source: OzHarvest).  This would include a combination of food items including foods passed their use by dates and best before dates, along with left overs that are perhaps no longer desirable or remained in the freezer for longer than anticipated.

Tips for avoiding food waste

We have compiled a few tips to help you to throw away less food and save money in the process:

  • It’s crucial to plan before you shop: before heading to the shops, make a precise list of the food you need, for the appropriate number of people, over the next few days. This prevents you from buying too much.
  • Proper storage is important: to enjoy your food for as long as possible, you must be careful to store it correctly.  Some types of food require special storage conditions to stay fresh for as long as possible and Liebherr’s BioFresh technology provides optimum storage conditions to keep food fresher and edible for longer.
  • Recycle leftovers: don’t instantly throw away all your leftovers. Instead, give free reign to your creativity and recycle them in other dishes. Leftover pasta tomato sauce can make a great pizza topping the following day or, if you have plenty, it can be frozen so you don’t need to cook from scratch when you’re short on time.
  • Always check food: before deciding whether to keep food or throw it away, always do an eyes, nose and taste check. After all, you are best qualified to decide whether or not you still enjoy the taste of your leftover food.

Do you have any tips for avoiding food waste?  Please share in the comments below or reach out to us via Facebook.