It’s easy to get confused by ‘best before’ and the ‘expiry’ date marked on our foods. This confusion contributes to much of our food being disposed of prematurely. Foods which may have passed the best before date going directly into the bin even though still good to be consumed. So, if the best before date differs to the expiry date, what is the difference? Why is it that some foods use one and others use the other?
What lies behind the best before date?
Most foods have a best before date. This indicates that the food is still safe to consume after this date however the product may have reduced in quality such as its freshness, taste, aroma or nutrients. In order, to determine whether the food is still edible, one should rely on their senses and the food in question. Note: in many instances, this only applies to unopened shelf-stable products. For certain foods, once its seal is opened and the food has been exposed to air, it is prone to contamination. Thus, the best before date no longer applies.
Can food be sold past its best before date?
In the food and beverage trade, products which are near to or have already passed their best before date are usually reduced in price or moved to a facility which specialises for this purpose.
What’s the difference between best before date and expiry date?
An expiry date advises consumers of the last day a product is safe to consume for health or safety reasons. Foods should not be eaten after the use by date and legally cannot be sold after this date because they may pose a health risk.
Best before date on the other hand tells the consumer that the food is no longer in its peak quality from that date onwards. It does not necessarily mean the food is no longer safe to eat. Best before date is basically a quality indicator.
Another term that adds to the confusion is the ‘use by’ date which applies only to perishable goods such as fresh fish or meats. Dispose of these foods immediately once they have passed the ‘use by’ date.
In addition, a storage temperature specification between +2 °C and +4 °C is usually included in the consumption date. However, most refrigerators with a temperature of +4 °C to +8 °C are significantly warmer. The optimal solution for perishable goods is provided by Liebherr – in the BioFresh compartment, the perfect storage temperature is presented for vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. Processed meats can be stored in the DrySafe for up to 100 days longer than in a conventional cooling compartment. Apples remain fresh in the HydroSafe for up to 80 days. All of course with maximum energy efficiency performance.
How to prevent food wastage?
Food wastage can be greatly reduced through planning. If you plan your shopping well, you can avoid having to throw food out, or at least substantially reduce the need. Another tip is to use a basket instead of a trolley when popping into the supermarket, this way you are mindful of your purchases and you will only buy what you really need.
And lastly, familiarise yourself with the best before and expiry date. These small reminders play a big part in the prevention of food wastage.