Demystifying the Dates - Expiry, Use By or Best Before

Demystifying the Dates - Expiry, Use By or Best Before

In the world of food consumption, the terms expiry date, use-by date, and best-before date often lead to confusion among consumers. These terms play a crucial role in determining the safety and quality of a product. Understanding these terms and differences is crucial for consumers to make decisions that ensure safety, but also reduce wastage of food. 


The “Best Before Date”

“Best before date” means the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage conditions during which the food product shall remain fully marketable and shall retain any specific qualities for which tacit or express claims have been made, and beyond that date, the food may still be perfectly safe to consume, though, its quality may have diminished. 

In simple words, Best Before date indicates the period during which a product maintains all its qualities including the flavor and nutritional value. Beyond this date, the food may still be safe to consume, however some of the qualities might have decreased. If stored correctly, products with best-before dates, can remain consumable for extended periods beyond this date. 


The “Use by / Expiry Date”

“Use by” or “expiry” means the date, which signifies the end of the estimated period under any stated storage conditions, after which the product may not remain safe and the food product probably will not have the quality of safety attributes normally expected by the consumers and the food, shall not be sold or distributed for human consumption

In simple words, food sold after the Expiry Date is considered to be unsafe. Beyond this date, the food is no longer safe for human consumption and should not be sold or consumed. 

In the context of India, the labeling of consumable products is regulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The FSSAI mandates that packaged food products must feature a visible label containing comprehensive information essential for consumers. This information includes manufacturing dates, expiry/best-before dates, nutritional information, manufacturer contact details, and address, among other specifics. Thus, when examining a food label in India, consumers can rely on regulatory standards established by the FSSAI to ensure transparency and safety. 

Armed with an understanding of the different date labels and by paying close attention to them, consumers can make conscious decisions to ensure safety and minimize food wastage.

Armed with an understanding of the different date labels, we hope that you can make concious decisions to ensure safety as well as minimize food wastage.