Do you know the difference between best before and use by dates?
The difference between best before and use by dates on food can often cause trouble when trying to stick to food regulations. So what distinguishes the two?
Use by dates
Use by dates are placed on food items that will go off quickly, e.g. fish, meat, and ready prepared salads. In order for the use by date to be valid, you should follow storage instructions on the product carefully. You should never use anything outside of the use by deadline as it could compromise your customers’ health. However, remember that use by does not mean eat by – if a food can be frozen, its shelf life can be extended beyond this use by date.
Best before dates
Best before dates are used on a wide variety of frozen, dried and tinned foods. These dates are suggestive of food quality rather than safety – when a food is outside of its best before dates, it is not yet harmful, but could begin to lose flavour or texture. A best before date is only accurate if the food is stored in accordance with the instructions on the label, for example, ‘store in a cool dry place’.
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