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'Best Before' and 'Use By' Dates
At Approved Food we only trade in products that have a best before date which is quite literally the manufacturers estimate that the premium quality of its product may start to deteriorate. We do not sell chilled or frozen 'Use By' products.

Food labels provide?a wide range of information about foods. But understanding all of that information is important if we are to make use of it. Below we explain some of the more common labeling terms.

Best Before

BEST BEFORE
"Best before" dates appear on a wide range of dried, tinned and other foods.

"Best before" dates are about quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.

Every year in the UK we throw away?7.2m tonnes of food and drink, most of which could have been eaten. So think carefully before throwing away food past its 'best before'?date.

USE BY
You will see 'use by'?dates on food that goes off quickly, such as fish, meat products and ready-prepared salads.


Don't use any food or drink after the end of the 'use by' date on the label, even if it looks and smells fine. This is because using it after this date could put your health at risk.

For the 'use by' date to be a valid guide, you must follow storage instructions such as "keep in a refrigerator". If you don't follow these instructions, the food will spoil more quickly and you may risk food poisoning.

Once a food with a 'use by' date on it has been opened, you also need to follow any instructions such as "eat within three days of opening".

But remember, if the 'use by' is tomorrow, then you must use the food by the end of tomorrow, even if the label says "eat within a week of opening" and you have only opened the food today.

If a food can be frozen its life can be extended beyond the 'use by' date. But make sure you follow any instructions on the pack, such as?"cook from frozen" or "defrost thoroughly before use and use within 24 hours".

DISPLAY UNTIL AND SELL BY
Date marks such as "display until" or "sell by" often appear near or next to the 'best before' or 'use by'?date. These are instructions?for shop staff, not for shoppers.

The important dates for you to look for are the "use by" and "best before" dates.

What the experts say

Simon Rimmer: Approved Food "A good business and a safe business"
Simon Rimmer: Approved Food "A good business and a safe business"

"Do not eat anything after its use by date, however you can safely eat food after its best before date. I think we definitely waste too much food in this country. So Dan has got a good business and a safe business" Simon Rimmer, BBC Chef and Food Expert

"We lead extremely busy lives and taking an interest in what's written on the date label and then understanding what that actually means is a step too far for a lot of us. If people were more confident about what date labels mean they'd get round to eating more of their food rather than throwing it away" Julia Falcon, Love Food Hate Waste Campaign

"Shops are allowed to sell food after its best-before date has passed. Best-before dates are concerned with quality rather than safety, so it doesn't mean that the food is dangerous if the date has passed" Sam Montell, Food Standards Agency

The man from the BBC, he say 'yes'

Simon Rimmer of the BBC Food Fighters television programme (view here) visited our main depot and took some food samples to Leeds Metropolitan University for tests.

"We test for total bacteria we can find and then we specifically try to find individual nasties that might be hidden, things like salmonellas, bacillus and staphylococcus, all the things you would find if someone has been handling the food in the wrong way. If we have a look at the colonies here it is clean and there is no more bacteria on this than on the fresh clean in date sample. All of the samples are clean and everything is edible and perfectly good" Chris Boothby at Leeds Metropolitan University

For more information on best before dates look at the Food Standards Agency guidelines on www.foodstandards.gov.uk