What Does 'Best Before' and 'Use By' Mean and is there a DIfference?

You may see on food products either a ‘Use By Date’ or a ‘Best Before Date’, but what’s the difference between them?

Use By Dates on foods show when the food can be eaten until, after this it is not suitable for consumption as it could be unsafe to eat or drink as it may contain harmful bacteria. To extend the life of a product with a Use By Date you can freeze it, if it is suitable for freezing. The Use By Date is related to the food safety and should be taken note of - once passed, the food is not safe to eat.

The Best Before Date does not follow this same rule. Best Before End (BBE), is about the quality of the product, not whether it is safe to consume. After the BBE, the food will still be safe to eat, and will not be harmful, but it may not be at its best quality, and flavour and texture may have changed over time. Most food after its BBE date is safe to eat and may still taste just as good. The Best Before Date is seen as more of a guideline than a recommendation, with even places like Tesco’s removing the BBE on most of its fresh fruit and vegetables. Once the product is opened, it is important to look at the instructions for usage since this overrides the BBE date.

With both Best Before Date and Use By Date, the correct storage of a product is also important as this can affect the quality or the safety of the product, so always follow any instructions on the packaging. 

In the UK, it is estimated that we waste around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink, which most would have been fine to consume, but due to misinterpretation of the label the food has been discarded. It’s important to be aware of this when throwing away food which may have passed their Best Before but is still, in fact, safe and fine to eat.

Daisy, MSc PGDip ANutr, is a Registered Associate Nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Public Health Nutrition, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition, both of which are Association for Nutrition (AFN) accredited. She, also, has a BSc degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience; and has completed an AFN accredited Diet Specialist Nutrition course.

Daisy has worked for an NHS funded project, the Diabetes Prevention Programme; and shadowed a nutritionist in Harley Street. 

About Lucy Bee Limited

Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. We always recommend referring your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Lucy Bee is a lifestyle brand selling food, skincare and soap products all completely free from palm oil and with minimal use of plastic. Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, organic, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and empowering people to make informed choices and select quality, natural products for their food and their skin.


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