What is the Difference between Use by & Best before Dates?
Food labels provide a wide range of information about foods. They show nutritional information, ingredients and a range of different dates.
Use by and best before dates (as well as sell by and display by dates) are often confused, but the differences between them are easy to remember once you know what they are.
Use By Dates
Use by dates indicate when a product may no longer be safe to eat. You should not eat, cook, or freeze it after the date displayed, even if it looks or smells fine. Best before dates are an indication of quality rather than safety. You can still eat food after its best before date, but its flavour and texture is most likely not as good as before the date.
Use by dates are typically present on meats and dairy products, as well as ready meals like salads. Always follow the storage instructions on the product (usually refrigeration or freezing). Otherwise, it may no longer be good to eat – even before its use by date.
Best Before Dates
Best before dates are usually displayed on products that do not require refrigeration or freezing. For example, dry pasta, bread, tinned products, fruits and vegetables, and uncooked rice. The length of a product’s best before life varies greatly between foods. For example: bread usually has best before dates of no more than a week, while tinned products can last for years.
Best before dates are an indication of quality rather than safety. Food that is past its bet before date will likely have deteriorated in quality and become unpleasant to eat, but is generally not going to cause harm
The way in which you store the product also lengthens its best before life. For example: keeping it in a cool, dry place, and reducing air exposure to the product (by keeping it in its original packaging or food bags). You can even refrigerate some best before products, like fruit and veg, to expand their life
Best Before Dates on Eggs
These often appear next to the use-by and best-before dates on food labelling. They are instructions for the retailers, not customers. So don’t worry about them; they are not important for you to look out for. They do not determine the date past which it is safe to eat the food.