Demystifying the Dates - Expiry, Use By or Best Before

Demystifying the Dates - Expiry, Use By or Best Before


It’s a lazy summer day and you find yourself suddenly hungry. You haul into the kitchen only to find a lone packet of your favourite cream biscuits in the snacks drawer. You check for the expiry date to make sure it’s safe to eat. It’s only been two days past the date. You’re in a dilemma. Is it safe to eat? Or do you have to go all the way to the market in the hot sun? In this blog, we’ll be telling you the difference between an expiry date and a best-by date of a food product along with a few helpful tips.

Simply put, the expiry date of a food product, also known as the use-by date, is the date beyond which is unsafe to consume. Expiry dates are often found on quickly perishable products including medicines, fresh fruits and vegetables, and products with perishable ingredients. The best-before date on the other hand is a date beyond which the product is very much safe to consume. It would just have lost its flavour or nutritional value, but if it is stored correctly, it can even last for years on end. Best-by dates can usually be found on processed and vacuum-sealed food products.

In India, the label on all consumable products is governed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Their regulations mandate that packaged food must have a clearly visible label with all information consumers would need before making their purchase, including the manufacturing and expiry/best-by dates, the nutritional information, the manufacturer’s contact information and address and other details.

So the next time you find yourself staring at a food label, remember that you have more power to reduce food waste than you think! Make conscious choices and pick up products considering your use case. If you intend on consuming the product soon after purchase (think upcoming parties, social events, get-togethers), then decide in favour of short-dated items with limited shelf life!

We hope this little blog helped you better understand the difference between product expiry and best-by dates.