Best Before and Use By Dates
Short Dated and Best Before Stock
Some of our stock is short-dated or past its best before date so we are able to buy in large quantities and pass considerable savings on to our customers.
‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’
Food labels provide a wide range of information about foods. But understanding all of that information is important if we are to make use of it. Below we explain some of the more common labeling terms.
“Best before” dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods.
“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.
Every year in the UK we throw away 7.2m tonnes of food and drink, most of which could have been eaten. So think carefully before throwing away food past its “best before” date.
You will see “use by” dates on food that goes off quickly, such as fish, meat products and ready-prepared salads.
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.
For the “use by” date to be a valid guide, you must follow storage instructions such as “keep in a refrigerator”. If you don’t follow these instructions, the food will spoil more quickly and you may risk food poisoning.
Once a food with a “use by” date on it has been opened, you also need to follow any instructions such as “eat within three days of opening”.
But remember, if the “use by” is tomorrow, then you must use the food by the end of tomorrow, even if the label says “eat within a week of opening” and you have only opened the food today.
If a food can be frozen its life can be extended beyond the “use by” date. But make sure you follow any instructions on the pack, such as “cook from frozen” or “defrost thoroughly before use and use within 24 hours”.
Sam Montell, Food Standards Agency
“Shops are allowed to sell food after its best-before date has passed. Best-before dates are concerned with quality rather than safety, so it doesn’t mean that the food is dangerous if the date has passed”.