The difference between ‘BEST BEFORE’ and ‘USE BY’ DATES?

DO YOU KNOW/UNDERSTAND the difference between ‘BEST BEFORE’ and ‘USE BY’ DATES?

Some recent events have prompted this Blog it is intended to be informative.

 I am a former owner of ‘DMG Microlabs” a NATA accredited Microbiological food testing laboratory and now owner of Sue’s Gluten Free.

It still surprises me that there is still confusion over these dates.

For this Blog I have drawn upon published data, Food Standards Australia and NZ, and personal experience.

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The two types of DATE marking are….’USE BY’ and ‘BEST BEFORE’

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You can still eat food for a while after the “Best Before’ date as the food should be safe but may have lost some quality; these foods can legally be sold after that date provided the food is fit for human consumption.

 

QUESTION:

CAN I EAT FOOD PAST IT’S ‘BEST BEFORE’ DATE?

‘A product will remain fresh and of good quality right up to the ‘Best before’ date (and sometimes beyond) if it is stored properly, both at the store and at your home. It may still be safe to eat those foods after the ‘Best before’ date but they may have lost quality and some nutritional value.

QUESTION:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN BY ‘BEST BEFORE’ DATE ?

‘Best Before’ dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods, they are about QUALITY NOT SAFETY.

When the date is passed, it does not mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavor and texture.

QUESTION:

IS FOOD TRULY ROTTEN AFTER IT’S PASSED IT’S ‘BEST BEFORE ‘ DATE?

Consumers are throwing away thousands of kilograms and dollars’ worth of food each year simply because they misunderstand what the ‘Best Before’ date actually means.

A 2013 study from Harvard Law School and The Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that dates printed on packaged food serve to ‘confuse‘ consumers leading them to bin their food and money.

Lindsay Coulter, known as the ‘Queen of Green’ of the David Suzuki Foundation says… ‘About a third of all the food produced in the world is wasted’…..

She attributes a vast majority of that waste to consumers believing the ‘Best Before’ date means food is no longer safe to eat after that date.

People commonly mistake the ‘Best Before’ dates as an ‘Expiration ‘ date but the two labels tell consumers very different things.

DECIDING WHEN TO USE A ‘BEST BEFORE or ‘USE BY’ DATE.

The food business attaching the label is responsible for deciding whether a ’Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date is needed. This will depend on whether these foods need to be eaten within a certain time frame or because of health or safety reasons. (microbiological contamination).

HOW OR WHY IS ‘BEST BEFORE’ date determined?

There is a problem.

*These can be estimates

*They can be guesses

*They can be borrowed from competitor products

*They can be decided due to the cost of determining a ‘USE BY’ date.

This is a widespread practice and needs to be reviewed by the relevant authorities or remove ‘Best Before’ dates all together and save Food and costs all around. This is an impost on manufacturing and serves no useful purpose to consumers but only to confuse.

QUESTION:

WHAT IS ‘USE BY’ DATE?

Is the last date on which the food may be eaten safely provided it has been stored according to any stated storage conditions and the packaging is unopened.

After this date the food should NOT be eaten for health reasons.

The ‘USE BY’ date is determined by microbiological testing until the product reaches/exceeds the safe microbiological limits as set by Food Standards.

 

IN CONCLUSION:

BE aware and UNDERSTAND the difference between ‘BEST BEFORE’ and ‘USE BY’ dates

Expiry of the ‘Best Before’ date does not mean that the food is unfit to eat

 

I am happy to discuss this Blog on the phone or come in and visit the shop

Cheers

Bill Greene

0439364354

Sue’s Gluten Free

3/38 Williams Street Dayboro Qld