As a consumer it is a little confusing to differentiate between ‘best before’ date, ‘expiry date’ and ‘use by date’ and hence these 3 dates are often mistaken. That’s why it is common that foods that may be 1 day over its ‘best before’ date is thrown away even though it would still be edible. So what is the difference between the 3 dates?






What does ‘best-before date’ mean?

The ‘best before’ date guarantees that properties of the product will remain intact up to this point. Once the date has passed it may lose some of its quality such as freshness, taste, aroma or nutrients. It does not mean that the food is unsafe for consumption. In order to decide whether the food is still edible, one should rely on his/her senses (sight, smell and taste). The product should not be consumed if you find that the taste has been compromised, odour and appearance is odd or it’s exhibiting strange consistency. Note: this only applies to unopened shelf-stable product. Once a sealed product is exposed to air it is prone to contamination. Thus, the ‘best before’ date no longer applies to it.

What does ‘use by date’ mean?

‘Use by’ date usually applies only to perishable goods such as fresh fish or meat. Dispose them off immediately once they have passed the ‘use by’ date.

What does ‘expiry date’ mean?

Expiration dates tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume.

Advice to Consumers

  • Take note of the “use by” or “best before” date of the food items before purchase or consumption.
  • Do not eat nor donate food beyond its “use by” date, and be wary of the quality of food beyond the “best before” date.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s direction for proper storage.

Advice to Producers

  • Do not sell food nor give away food after its “use by” date.
  • Ensure food sold after its “best before” date is still fit for human consumption.
  • Ensure you conduct a shelf life study before giving a “use by” or “best before” date mark for a food.

Fogiene Sciences has decades of Experience & Expertise in Nutritional Labelling & Shelf Life Studies. Contact us for more information.

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