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Blog: Every Bite Counts

The Best Way to Use Best Before Dates

Best before dates can be confusing, and far too often people treat them incorrectly as toss by dates. Confusion around date labels can cause unnecessary food waste, so we want to clarify what they mean and how best to use them.

Here are the key things to remember about best before dates.

  • They are an indicator of food quality, not food safety. Each company sets their own date based on how long they feel their product will keep its freshness, taste, nutritional value or other claims.
  • They only apply to unopened products that have been stored and handled properly.
  • It is safe to eat, sell or buy food past its best before date.
  • Expiration dates are different than best before dates. They are only allowed to be used on certain foods where the exact nutrient content and composition of the food is critical such as on infant formal, nutritional supplements, meal replacements or formulated liquid diet foods.

For a closer look at these and other facts about date labels, read our detailed explanation.

Best before dates merely give us a ballpark estimate of the shelf life of unopened food. They should never be used as an indicator for when to toss food. Instead, we recommend you use them as a tool for shopping and managing your food at home. Here’s how.

1. Use best before dates when shopping.

If you’re buying food to use right away, buy items close to or on their best before date. You can often get these items at a greatly reduced price and you’ll prevent them from being tossed by the retailer. You and the planet both win!

If you’re buying food to store or use later, buy items with the longest best before date so you have more time to open and use a product.

2. Use best before dates for storing food.

Use best before bates to help you organize your fridge and pantry. When unpacking groceries, rotate what you already have so items with the closest best before date are at the front. It’ll make it easier to pick the oldest food first when cooking.

3. Use best before dates for freezing food.

When you have an unopened package of food near or on its best before date in your fridge and you know you won’t be eating it right away – freeze it.  You’ll capture it at its best quality to enjoy another day.

We’d love your help to spread the news about the correct way to use best before dates. If you know someone that is confused about best before dates and could benefit from this information, please share this article with them.