Tuesday, 7 December 2021

difference between sell-by and best before dates


LONDON: If you find yourself throwing away a bin bag full of food that’s past it’s best, it’s time for you to reconsider.

As Dan Cluderay and Andy Needham , the founders of Approved Food, a website that sells products which are past their best before date, explain: “Every year in the UK, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink, most of which could have been eaten. So think carefully before throwing away food past its ‘best before’.”


It’s all safe

They don’t, crucially, sell chilled or frozen products that have a “use by” date on, so there’s no chance of getting a tummy bug here. In fact, Leeds Metropolitan University tested food for bacteria and found no nasties.

Just to recap then, so we all know what we’re talking about, in the world of food labelling, there are three key dates, the wording varies but roughly speaking, these are: sell by, use by and best before.

Dan explains these as follows:


“Best before” dates are about quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.


Don’t use any food or drink after the end of the ‘use by’ date on the label, even if it looks and smells fine. This is because using it after this date could put your health at risk. If a food can be frozen its life can be extended beyond the use by date.


Date marks such as “display until” or “sell by” often appear near or next to the best before or use by. These are instructions for shop staff, not for shoppers. The important dates for you to look for are the use by and best before dates.

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