Labels. Not sure what they all mean? Here’s everything you need to know about display until, best before and use by dates
These dates refer to quality rather than food safety. Foods with a ‘best before’ date should be safe to eat after the ‘best before’ date, but they may no longer be at their best.
These dates refer to safety. Food can be eaten up to the end of this date but not after even if it looks and smells fine. Always follow the storage instructions on packs.
Display until & sell by
You can ignore these dates as they are for shop staff not for shoppers.
Did you Know?
- To extend the life of food beyond its date, freeze it before the date and defrost and use within 24 hours.
- Providing eggs are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date.
- For foods with a best before date it’s ok for to use your senses to check if food is good to eat, but for those that carry a use-by date, sticking to the date is really the only safe bet – or you can of course freeze the food right up to that date.
Top tips to keep on top of your dates
- Sort out the fridge. It doesn’t take long and it’ll save your food! Wrap up any half used packets such as cheese, sliced meats or sausages to stop them drying out. Bring the oldest foods to the front so that they get used first.
- Most packets have instructions on them to tell you how long the food is good to eat after the pack is opened. If you can’t get through the food in that time, wrap it up, label it and freeze it for another time.
- Regularly check the ‘Use-By’ dates on your foods and plan when to cook them. If you are not going to get round to eating them, again, wrap them well, label and freeze them.
- Many store cupboard foods like biscuits, nuts, dried fruits, crackers, crisps and cakes have a best before date. Remember that food is safe to eat even after that date, and many of these foods can be frozen to extend their lives even further.
- Run a rescue mission. Some dried foods like crisps, nuts and crackers can go a bit soft if they are not eaten within a couple of days being opened – popping them in the oven for just a few minutes will help them crisp up again as they cool down.