Best Before vs Use By: How To Reduce Food Waste Using A Common Sense Approach To Best Before Dates

Unlike ‘Use By’ dates, ‘Best Before’ dates are not about food safety but rather food quality. The timeframe given is an indicator of when the expected standard of the food or drink is most likely to change.

Historically, the government has discussed removing this label, as it is somewhat misleading and widely considered confusing; as a result a significant amount of food is thrown away each year. Food that is passed the ‘Best Before’ date is typically safe to consume but sometimes no longer at its best. However, we can reduce food waste using a common sense approach to best before dates; if the food tastes ok, then it is safe to ignore the best before date.

Best before dates vs use by dates

Let’s Ignore Best Before Dates To Help Reduce Food Waste

So, today’s challenge for Zero Waste Week is to take stock of what is in your cupboards and look through the best before dates on items. Can you find a meal or two that can be created using an ingredient that has passed the best before date? Share on social media using hashtags #ZeroWasteWeek and #LetsIgnoreBestBefore

For more information read ZWW Day 4 blog post.

#Letsignorebestbefore best before dates food waste zero waste week challenge

My cupboards are already quite well organised, as I did this at the start of lockdown in order to do a thorough stock check of what we had available. There were a few things that were passed their best before date, which have since been used up if possible.

However, I do have people in my life with sensory considerations and it’s not uncommon for them to be especially sensitive to slight changes in texture and taste. So, if crackers and other such items become a little stale compared to normal, this can be a pretty big deal. At this stage, for that person at least, these items might no longer be food. For things that can be used as an ingredient though, especially in a meal with plenty of flavour to mask any subtle changes in quality, this can sometimes work.

Judge on flavours not looks or best before date

Sensory sensitivies aside, just because the best before date has passed, doesn’t mean you can’t eat it! You can use websites and apps like SuperCook help to find recipes with the ingredients you have. By not being too eager to toss food out, you might discover some new, tasty treats and help the environment at the same time!

Read some of my other tips to reduce food waste here.

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