What to Do When Your Food Exceeds its Best Before or Expiry Date

Written by Aeesha McOsei

October 9, 2020

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 e.g. ingredients etc. In this article, I will be focusing on what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before (BB) date.

Attached to every processed and packaged food item 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? 

Expiry Date

It is a less common cautionary date used in the food industry. It states the last day food is safe to eat. Any food beyond the expiry date should be tossed out immediately. Mostly written as EXP.

Best Before Date

It 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 by. Foods that have passed their best before dates can be consumed on the condition that their appearance and odour 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. That is why I’m here to tell you what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before.

How Long Some Common Food Can Stay Even After the Best Before Date

1. Gala

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. Maybe not at soft or fresh but they’ll still be 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

Like sardines and Geisha, corned beef, sweet peas, and corns, 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 Waste and Resources Action Programm (WRAP) in the UK, jams and the likes of it are still fit for consumption3 years after their best-before dates. Anyways, let us bench it lower at 6 months after the best-before date because we have village people.

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.

With the intention to reduce food waste, please bear in mind that food safety is paramount. Ensure checking the labels on the food products to confirm it is the Best Before date and not Expiry date.

If the packaging is still intact and the appearance and odour are agreeable to common sense, only then should you consume food after their best-before dates.

Once again, under no circumstances should you consume any food past its Expiry date!

So here you go. I hope you now know what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before. Tell me if you have any concerns in the comment box!

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