Use By & Best Before Dates, what is the difference?

Author: Phil   Date Posted:1 February 2013 

The difference between ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates.

A lot of customers seem to confuse the meaning of these two date terms. This is why we thought it would be a good idea to clear up the point. It is an important difference to understand that can save you from eating unsafe food.

Most foods must have a best before date, unless they last more than two years, in which case by law they do not require any date markings. As part of our food program at The Melbourne Food Depot all products carry a batch number and a best before date. One example would be the Kaolin clay, this product lasts over 10 years but we still put a best before date on the product as a consumer guide. To obtain the best performance from our products always store them in a cool, dry area away from light and heat. In the case of some products, dried yeasts, chocolate or cake mixes a loss in quality will be noticed after the best before date.

Another example would be pectin powder it has a best before date. The product will be fine to use up to and beyond that date. Over time the functionality of the pectin will decrease but in a domestic setting this will not be noticeable. As our pectins are sourced from high quality German or Danish manufacturers this decrease in activity will be neglagble. If you are concerened purchace some fresh stock or run a small batch trial to assess the pectin activity prior to production.

Foods that should not be consumed after a certain date for health and safety reasons must have a ‘use-by’ date and cannot be sold after that date. Use by dates appear on perishables such as meat, fish and dairy products. It is quite important not to eat any food that's past its use-by date, even if it looks and smells OK.

The Melbourne Food Depot does not sell any products to the public with use by dates.

This date style is mainly used on baked goods to enable you to see how fresh the goods are. 

We hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings and perceptions of the two date system.


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