It is imperative to understand the difference between ‘best before’ dates and ‘expiry dates’, so that consumers do not throw away fresh food, or eat food that is already spoiled.
The best before date that appears on a food item is the date that the manufacturer or distributor of the product has estimated that the product will be at its freshest. After this date, there may be undesirable aspects of the fruit, vegetable of preserved goods. Having the best before date on the packaging indemnifies the manufacturer against any grievance by the consumer.
An expiry date is the day that the food is no longer considered edible.
Can food be sold past its ‘best before’ date?
An expired ‘best before’ date does not trigger a sales ban, explains The Liebher Blog. In the food and beverage trade, products that are close to or have already passed their ‘best before’ dates are usually given a price reduction in order to boost sales.
When it comes to ‘best before dates’, the warning is more about quality than safety. Best-before dates are found on food items like canned food, rice, coffee, pasta, and biscuits.
Legally, stores cannot sell goods that have expired, without announcing the expiration. It is never advised to consume expired food. There are pathogens and bacteria that break down fresh produce specifically, making them inedible and even toxic after a certain point.
Consumers are expected to adhere to storage instructions after opening to avoid falling ill, says Radio 702.
When it comes to fresh produce, meat and dairy, the storage method is even more important than following the guidelines stipulating by when the food should be consumed. Food that is nearing its best before date can be frozen to ensure longevity.