The Truth about the Best By Dates on Food
You probably have noticed the dates on foods, such as “sell-by,”best-by,” and “use-by,” and all of these can be confusing! In this post, we’ll talk about their meanings to help you make the right decision when buying non-perishable foods, especially when you’re donating them to food banks.
This is aimed at the retailer that guides them when they should rotate product off the shelves.
“Best if used by” Date
This indicated the quality of the food. Therefore, don’t panic if you missed the “best by” date—you can still consume it after.
This is the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming the product based on quality. Again, it has nothing to do with safety.
Now, you might be wondering how long your food will last if it goes past the expiration date.
The answer to that is: it depends. It depends on what it is and how it was handled. The USDA recommends using products that have the use-by date by that time.
On the other hand, for sell-by dates that go past, you can still store it for a short period depending on what it is.
As for their nutritional value, it still depends. For example, a cup of orange juice can provide you with a full day of vitamin C, but if it’s been open for a week, it will lose its antioxidant benefits due to light and air exposure.
With that, some foods do really lose their nutrients when they’re exposed to air, and they may lose a bit more when you cook them. That’s why it’s vital you consume your fruits and vegetables as soon as you buy them.
Food Safety & the Best-By Date
Again, the best-by date talks about the quality. So, if you’re unsure about the safety of your food, the best thing to use here is your nose.
The smell of a food can say a lot about the freshness of the food; therefore, it’s your go-to “tool” when buying non-perishable foods. If there’s a sour smell, then it’s probably bad; so, skip it.
It’s also a good idea to have a good labeling system if you will store these items at home. That way, you will be able to tell which products should go first; at the same time, you can follow easily the “first in, first-out” basis.
Bets-by dates are about the quality of the food, not their safety. So, it’s not a reliable basis when it comes to food safety. Still, it’s important you know that the best-by dates don’t say much about the safety of the food, so you shouldn’t put one back on the shelf if you see it’s already past the best-by date. This is because you can still consume and use it.
Knowing what best-by date truly means will help you shop more efficiently and make your pantry even more organized. It is also helpful when you’re donating foods to food banks and other charities.