Labels on food products are one of the must-haves of packages or processed food. This is to ensure food safety giving the consumer more information on the food such as ingredients etc. In this article, we will be focusing on what you do when your food exceeds Best Before Date or Expiry Dates? Do you just discard them?
You can also learn about the Four Steps To Food Safety here.
Attached to every processed and packaged food items are two dates, the production date and the best before or expiry date. The production date does not cause any confusion but the other two dates do. People misinterpret the two dates leading to unnecessary waste of food. What is the definition of these dates and why are they important?
Common Labels on Foods and Their Meanings
1. Expiry Date
This is a less common cautionary date used in the food industry. It states the last day food is safe for consumption. Toss out any food beyond the expiry date immediately. Most companies denote expiry dates as EXP.
2. Best Before Date
This is the most commonly used cautionary date in the food industry. As the name implies, it states the date a food item is best to be consumed. Food that has passed their best before dates can be consumed on the condition that their appearance and odor are still agreeable. Bear in mind that this only applies to previously unopened food items. Mostly written as BB or Best Before.
Expiry dates denote food safety, while Best-before dates denote food quality.
Even though best before dates are beginning to sound like good news, it does not mean you have to keep food forever. Let’s look at how long some common foods can stay after their best before date.
What To Do When Food Exceeds Its Best Before Date
This is the first on my list for obvious reasons. With a best-before period of just a week after production, they’ve been turned down severally for being “expired” and unsafe to eat. On the contrary, they are still safe to eat. They may not be all soft or fresh but they’re still fit to eat 3-4 days after their best-before date.
2. Soft Drinks
As a testimony, I once drank a chilled bottle of La Casera that was 3 months behind its best before date. It tasted the same and I didn’t suffer any complications. A bottle of soft drink will still be fit to drink 3 months after the best before dates.
3. Canned Foods
This includes foods like sardines and Geisha, corned beef, sweet peas, and corn, etc. As long as the cans are not previously opened or pierced, they are still safe to consume as far as 3 months after their best before dates.
4. Jams and Other Condiments
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the UK, jams and the likes of it are still fit for consumption 3 years after their best-before dates. Anyway, let us bench it lower at 6 months after the best-before the date because we have village people, right? Furthermore, WRAP cautions on ensuring that the seal on the jams has been firmly intact.
5. Biscuits and Other Snacks
These are also safe for consumption up to 3 months after their best-before dates.
6. Pasta (Spaghetti, Macaroni etc.)
Like most shelf-stable food product, dried pasta will keep for longer and can be consumed after their best before date have been exceeded. Up to 3 months as long as it does not show signs of spoilage and the taste when cooked, is agreeable.
7. Cooking Oil
Packaged cooking oil comes with a best before date. It is true that a lot of people purchase refilled oil without knowing their production or best before date. if you do know, it is considered safe to consume the oil if the date has exceeded, up to 6 months. Do not throw caution in the wind though, bad oil will have a rancid smell and turn acrid and/or foamy when heated.
Your cereals such as cornflakes etc. are still safe to be consumed up to 4 months after their best before date.
To reduce food waste, please bear in mind that food safety is paramount. Ensure checking the labels on food products to confirm it is the Best Before date and not the Expiry date. What you should do when food exceeds the best before or the expiry date is to check if the packaging is still intact and the appearance and odor are agreeable to common sense. Only then should you consume food after their best-before dates.
Now you know what to do when food exceeds its best before dates or expiry date. Once again, under no circumstances should you consume any food past its Expiry date!