Do you get confused by the dates printed on our food packaging? Use by and best before dates are often confused, but the differences between them are easy to remember once you know what they are.
Use by dates indicate when a product may no longer be safe to eat. You should not eat, cook, or freeze it after the date displayed, even if it looks or smells fine. Best before dates are an indication of quality rather than safety. You can still eat food after its best before date, but its flavour and texture is most likely not as good as before the date.
Use by dates are typically present on meats and dairy products, as well as ready meals like salads. Always follow the storage instructions on the product (usually refrigeration or freezing). Otherwise, it may no longer be good to eat – even before its use by date.
Best before dates are usually displayed on products that do not require refrigeration or freezing. For example, dry pasta, bread, tinned products, fruits and vegetables, and uncooked rice. The length of a product’s best before life varies greatly between foods. For example: bread usually has best before dates of no more than a week, while tinned products can last for years.
The way in which you store the product also lengthens its best before life. For example: keeping it in a cool, dry place, and reducing air exposure to the product (by keeping it in its original packaging or food bags). You can even refrigerate some best before products, like fruit and veg, to expand their life.
USE BY DATES
BEST BEFORE DATES
Best Before Dates on Eggs