Are you confused by what “Use By Date” and “Best Before Date” actually mean? If so, you might be discarding perfectly good food, straight into your kitchen bin.
It happens to all of us. We find some food at the back of the fridge or a kitchen cupboard, realise that it is past its “Best Before Date” and put it straight in the trash without even checking if it is still good to eat.
In fact, 45% of British adults are so perplexed by expiry food labels that they end up throwing away 10% of their weekly food shop, fearing they might eat something that had gone off and could make them sick.
The survey was conducted by Too Good To Go, the innovative food waste app that connects consumers to nearby businesses such as restaurants, pubs, retailers that have surplus food to dispose of at bargain prices. Since its launch in 2016, Too Good To Go has saved over 58m meals from going to waste.
According to the research, “over a quarter (26%) are concerned that eating food past the “Best Before Date” could make them sick, and just a third (34%) would serve a meal to friends or family with ingredients past this date.
Of the 2,000 Brits surveyed, a staggering 39% admitted that they don’t use their senses to determine the edibility of food items in their cupboard or fridge, and almost a third (32%) wouldn’t eat yoghurt that had passed its ‘Best Before Date’, despite it being perfectly safe to do so.
Milk is the food product that Brits are most likely to check before consuming at 70%, with other dairy products such as yoghurt (59%), eggs (56%), and cheese (44%) high up on the list.”
“Use By Date” vs “Best Before Date” … What do They Mean?
Confused by what these labels actually mean? Here is a handy guide from Too Good To Go.
“Best Before Date”
This is simply an indication of quality and many foods can still be eaten safely well after their “Best Before Date” with no significant drop in quality.
Where you’ll see it: On packaged foods such as frozen, tinned or dried items.
What it means: Food may have lost some of its flavour or texture after this date.
What it doesn’t mean: Food will be unsafe to eat after this date. If the date has passed but the food still looks, smells, and tastes okay, you’re in the clear.
“Use By Date”
Where you’ll see it: On food that goes off quickly – think fish, meat products, and salads-to-go.
What it means: Food will be unsafe to consume after this date.
Any exceptions? You can extend the life of use by food by freezing – although you must freeze it before the use-by date passes.
So how can you tell if food is still good to eat?
Too Good To Go has launched the ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ initiative, to encourage consumers to look beyond “Best Before Dates” and stop wasting food that is perfectly good and safe to eat. The campaign is supported by over 30 household brands that have committed to adding Too Good To Go’s ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ label to the packaging of their products such as The Laughing Cow cheese, Onken yoghurt, Activia and Actimel yoghurt drinks and Cravendale milk.
The food waste app also hopes that the campaign will inspire brands to get rid of misleading date labels “so that products only display ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ where absolutely necessary”.
Next time you are rummaging through your fridge and cupboard looking for something to eat and find something that is past its “Best Before Date” avoid throwing it into the bin straight away. Make sure you use your senses first by looking, smelling and tasting it. Chances are it is still good to eat!
Looking for additional tips on how to reduce food waste. Check out my article on 6 Easy Ways to Use Up Overripe Fruits and this super easy 10-second test to check if eggs are still good to eat.