Best Before vs Expired Date
In our daily lives, when using or consuming food and beverages, we often come across labels indicating the expiration date of the products. Two commonly used terms are “Best Before” and “Expired Date.” While these terms may sound similar, it is crucial to understand their distinct meanings to ensure the safety and quality of the products we consume.
Best Before / Source : M&P Engineering
According to the Food Standards Agency, “Best Before” or the date of optimal quality indicates until when the manufacturer guarantees the best quality and taste of the product. After the Best Before date has passed, the product can still be consumed, but there is a possibility that its quality and taste may diminish. For example, biscuits may no longer be crispy, or milk may have undergone slight changes in taste.
Expired Date/ Source : Shutterstock
The “Expired Date” or “Use By Date,” as stated by the US Department of Agriculture, is the date that signifies the end of the recommended consumption period for a product. Once this date has passed, the product is considered unsafe to consume, as it may have likely spoiled or undergone chemical changes that could pose health risks. Consuming products past their expired date can increase the risk of food poisoning.
Why is it important to understand both?
- Product Quality and Taste
Understanding the Best Before date helps us choose products that are still fresh and of the highest quality. However, after this date, although the product can still be consumed, its quality and taste may have diminished. Avoiding the consumption of products beyond the Expired Date ensures that we do not consuming unsafe or unpleasant products.
- Health and Safety
Understanding the difference between Best Before and Expired Date is crucial for maintaining our health and safety. Consuming products after the expired date increases the risk of food poisoning. Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria can grow in expired products and cause serious digestive illnesses. Therefore, it is important to discard products that have exceeded their expired date and refrain from consume them.
- Waste Reduction
Understanding the distinction between Best Before and Expired Date also helps in reducing food waste. Many people discard products that are still safe to consume simply because they have passed the Best Before date. Proper understanding can help reduce food waste and optimize the efficient use of products. International regulations promoting food waste reduction include the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the European Union’s Farm to Fork Strategy.
While there is no single universal regulation governing the terms “Best Before” and “Expired Date,” the following guidelines and recommendations can help establish a consistent and common framework for food manufacturers to provide expiration date information on their product labels. Consumers can utilize this information to make informed decisions when selecting and consuming food products.
- Codex Alimentarius Commission
The Codex Alimentarius is an organization established by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). They develop international guidelines for food safety, including guidelines on food labeling. Codex Alimentarius documents such as the “General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods” and the “General Principles of Food Hygiene” provide general guidance on date information on food labels.
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
The EFSA is an independent scientific body that provides scientific advice on food safety in the European Union. They provide guidance to food manufacturers and regulatory authorities in the European Union regarding food labeling, including expiration dates. These guidelines include minimum requirements for date labeling and classify food products into “Best Before” and “Use By” categories.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA is the food and drug regulatory agency in the United States. This regulatory agency provides guidelines to food manufacturers on food labeling, including expiration dates. The FDA requires manufacturers to clearly state expiration dates on perishable products and provides guidance on the use of terms such as “Best Before” and “Use By” to provide information to consumers.
Understanding the differences between Best Before and Expired Date is crucial for consumers. This understanding helps us choose fresh and high-quality products while ensuring our health and safety. By paying attention to both dates on product labels, we can reduce food waste and consume products wisely. It is also important to always read the labels and usage instructions on product packaging and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to maintain the quality and safety of our consumption.