Monday, 23 April 2012

U for Use by dates

I have frequent calls from my son - “Mum can I eat ...?” and he goes on to describe some food he has bought that looks fine but is just past its sell by date on the label.

But hooray!! The "sell-by" date on food packaging in the UK is to be removed in a bid to cut the £12bn worth of food needlessly binned every year. Research shows that a significant part of the blame for this is 
confusing food labelling.
use by date label

Packaging should only carry "use by" or "best before" dates, according to new government guidance, while "sell by" and "display until" labels currently used by supermarkets will be removed to deter shoppers from throwing away good food.

"Use by" labels should only be used if food could be unsafe to eat after that date, while "best before" dates should show the product is no longer at its best but is still safe to consume, the advice states.

We all know which foods to be careful with don’t we? That is the food likely to require a "use by" date, like meat, soft cheese, fish and ready meals, It leaves biscuits, jams, pickles, crisps and tinned foods needing only a "best before" label
. Only down side is that there will be less bargains in the supermarket and less “cherry picking” opportunities but it is an eco victory so worth it.

I say , I say, I say! Have you heard the one about the three bears at the breakfast table – one says “Have you seen the use by date on this box of porridge?”


  1. Food for thought...I may never look at use by dates the same again, and I have a feeling I might end up laughing at a few of them when I do:)

  2. My bottle of Magners the other day had a best before date of 2075... which throws up other questions in my mind!

  3. I am having to teach my eldest daughter (9) that just because something is past the 'best before' date it doesn't mean you can't eat it. I told her to look at the item and see if there is mold on it, if not its safe to eat.

    I think she may have got confused with the 'use by' date's on things like diary products(which I know some might be ok), as we like to err on the side of caution with that.

    We have found veg (still eatable) in the fridge that is over a month past its 'best before date'.

    I think the dates should only be on if they are 'use by'.