What’s the difference between use by and best before dates on supermarket food?

Woman looking at food label

Some food products will have a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ (Picture: Getty)

Some supermarkets have ditched ‘best before’ labels on certain food products.

It’s all part of an initiative to cut back on food waste – with concerns that best before dates put people off eating items that are perfectly fine, with the food ending up in the bin instead.

Consumers are being asked to use their ‘own judgement’ on whether something should be thrown away or kept a little longer.

Indeed, being mindful of not wasting food could even help you save a bit of cash during the cost of living crisis.

Crucially, though, best before dates are different to ‘use by’ dates. For food hygiene reasons, it’s key not to mix them up.

So, what do they both mean?

What is a use by date?

It’s important to know the difference between a ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date.

Use by is about food safety. Usually, it’s provided on fresh, highly perishable products such as fish or chicken. Eating something after the specified use by date is considered unsafe.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency says you shouldn’t eat foods after their use by date.

Remember: it’s a food safety warning – not a guide. The date displayed is the final day the product should be eaten, even if the food looks OK and smells completely edible.

Beyond the specified date, there’s potential for bad bacteria to grow and even food poisoning to occur.

What is a best before date?

Best before is not about safety, but signifies when the food is of the highest quality.

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Source:: Metro


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