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Best Before Dates – Do They Really Matter?

Do you ever wonder about the dates on food labels? Do they really matter? The answer is yes. If you’ve had a product with a best before date that’s passed, then it might be time to throw it out.

Best before dates are often used as a quality assurance label. It tells us how long a product can be expected to retain its freshness and taste after being manufactured.

The label will also state the recommended storage conditions for the product in order to maintain the best quality of the product until its best before date. So while they may not be as important as an expiration date, they do still hold some weight. Here are some other things worth knowing about best before dates!

What is a best before date?

A best before date is a quality assurance label. It tells us how long a product can be expected to retain its freshness and taste after being manufactured.

The label will also state the recommended storage conditions for the product in order to maintain the best quality of the product until its use-by date.

Why do we have best before dates?

Best before dates are used as a quality assurance label to tell us how long a product can be expected to retain its freshness and taste after being manufactured.

Best before dates are often used as a quality assurance label. It tells us how long a product can be expected to retain its freshness and taste after being manufactured. The label will also state the recommended storage conditions for the product in order to maintain the best quality of the product until its use-by date. So while they may not be as important as an expiration date, they do still hold some weight. Here are some other things worth knowing about best before dates!

How important are they?

Best before dates are not as important as the use-by date because they indicate that the product is still of good quality to eat. As long as it’s been stored in the right conditions, it should be just as fresh on the day of its best before date as if it had never expired at all.

If you’re not sure how to tell if a product has passed its best before date, look for obvious signs of spoilage or degradation such as an off-smell, off-taste, or a discoloration. If you notice any of these things, you should throw it out!

When should you trust them?

The best before date is a great quality assurance indicator. When the product has passed its best before date, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product will be unsafe to eat. But you will notice a difference in taste and quality of the product.

If you’re not sure if an item is past its best before date, check for a manufacturer use-by or expiry date instead. A use-by date is usually two to three weeks less than the best before date so this should give you some guidance as to how long you can trust your products.

Some items don’t have either expiration or best before dates, however. These are items that are perishable such as meat or seafood and will generally have a sell by date instead which indicates when stores need to remove the item from their shelves.

What are the labels that use best before dates?

Some products that have best before dates include bread, eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. Essentially anything that goes bad over time is more than likely going to use a best before date as a label. It may seem like it doesn’t hold much weight in terms of what’s food safe and what isn’t but you want to play it safe by erring on the side of caution.

Fruit and vegetables

The best before date for fruit and vegetables is normally a recommendation of up to two weeks after the date they were picked.

Meat and poultry

Best before dates are typically used on meat and poultry products, since they need to be cooked in order to be consumed. The date will tell you how long the product can be stored in the fridge or freezer before it needs to be discarded.

The wording on food labels can also differ for certain types of products. For example, a “use by” date is more important for things like raw meat, which should be cooked thoroughly before consumption. A best before date tends to apply more to processed meats such as ham or salami, which don’t need to be cooked before eating.

Dairy products

The best before date on dairy products is often set to six weeks after manufacture. This means that milk will be safe to drink up until the use-by date, if you store it under correct conditions. These include refrigeration and not being exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight.

Conclusion

Although best before dates are not legally binding, they are widely used across the UK. The advice is to trust the date if a product looks and smells fine.

It’s important to understand the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. A use by date should be followed as it indicates the product will be unsafe to eat after this date has passed. A best before date, on the other hand, is only there to guide you on when a product will likely lose its optimum quality and taste.

The only way you can tell if a product is unsafe to eat is if it is mouldy, off-smelling or leaking fluid.