What is the meaning of 'best before' date?
We all want to do our part and protect the environment in whatever way we can. Maybe you’ve started reducing your paper usage or you’re turning off the tap more often to save water. Perhaps you even have a recycling bin at home and you’ve made sure that everyone in the family uses it.
It’s time to pay attention to the other bin in the house. The one where food goes in. Every day good food is being wasted. UK households waste 4.5 tonnes of food1 every year, a huge amount that is estimated to cost us close to £14bn2. This doesn’t impact only our pockets, but also our environment.
So, why are we wasting so much food? Most food gets thrown away simply because it’s not being used in time. That’s why in this article we’re taking a look at what the 'best before' date actually means and how we might be able to waste less food by simply checking its look, smell and taste. Just because food is past its prime, it doesn’t mean it should be destined straight for the bin. Here is why.
Most food labels show a 'best before' date. It is best to consume before this date to benefit from a great taste and texture as product characteristics slowly decline over time. After this date, taste might become less intense, texture might become a bit less crunchy or very crunchy depending on the products, and the colour might evolve slightly. It doesn’t necessarily mean products become bad or unsafe to eat.
What is the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’?
However, when it comes to the use-by date, we should be more careful. The Food Standards Agency has a simple way to help us make the distinction between 'best before' and use-by dates. The 'best before' date relates to food quality, while the use-by date relates to food safety.
Foods such as fresh meat, fresh fish, vegetables and dairy products such as milk, cheese and cream are considered highly perishable. This means they go bad in a short period of time and can be harmful to our health when consumed in that state. The use-by date is chosen based on scientific methods that reveal the point at which these products are no longer safe for us to eat, so you should never consume food past its use-by date.
How long after 'best before' date can you eat food?
So, if we can waste less food by checking the look, smell and taste rather than just the 'best before' date, how long can we keep food in our fridge past the date written on the label? It depends on the type of product, but here are a few useful rules of thumb.
How long do eggs last after ‘best before’ date?
Eggs also have a longer life than the carton says. You can use them weeks past the 'best before' date. Plus, this is a food that will let you know pretty quickly when it’s gone bad thanks to the notorious strong smell. Another good test is to put the egg in a cup filled with water. If it floats, that means it’s gone bad and it’s unfortunately destined for the bin.
Can you eat bread after ‘best before’ date?
Bread can sometimes be consumed even a week past its 'best before' date. As long as you store it in a dry, cool place and it hasn’t developed mould, rest assured you can still make your favourite sandwiches without rushing to the shop for a new loaf. Unfortunately, bread does tend to go stale quite quickly, but that’s the perfect opportunity to make toast and enjoy it with beans or jam. Don’t forget that you can keep bread fresh for longer if you store it a bread box. If you still have some left after a couple of days, you can always wrap it and put it in your freezer for later.
Can you eat cereals after 'best before' date?
You’re getting ready to enjoy your favourite cereals in the morning only to discover that the 'best before' date on the package was a couple of days ago? The good news is that you can still eat cereals after their 'best before' date if they don’t look, smell or taste out of the ordinary. As long as you store them properly and according to the instructions on the label, you can still finish the old box of cereals before starting a new one.
We’re joining the 'Too Good to Go' movement to fight food waste
Have you noticed the label ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ on our cereal packaging and wondering what it means? We’re joining forces with the Too Good to Go’s 'Look, Smell, Taste, Don't Waste' campaign to help address date labelling confusion.
What does Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste mean?
The Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste campaign aims to reduce food waste by bringing together some of your favourite brands in an effort to change product labels and make it clear that not all food that’s gone past its Best Before date should be headed for the bin. This is why we will roll out the ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ messaging on our cereal boxes in support of the Too Good to Go movement. Nestlé has been working to reduce its food waste for more than a decade, so we are delighted to join forces and help stop good food going to waste.
So, make sure you check the look, smell and taste first before deciding to throw it away. It’s so easy and it saves so many resources whenever you don’t let good food get wasted.
Look out for the Look Smell Taste Don't Waste label on our cereal boxes!
Next, find out more about our Better Planet initiatives and discover ways you can help us make a difference with these recycling tips.
- IN PERSON
For the last 15 years we’ve been working to reduce the sodium (which is the major component of salt) in our breakfast cereals across the world, because we want to keep on making them more nutritious. Achieving consistency on all products, in all countries, takes time - so some may have more sodium than others. Our aim is for all our cereals – globally – to have the same reduced levels of sodium, with a target of less than 135mg per serving in all our children’s products.
As well as being a healthy choice for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, Gluten Free Corn Flakes are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron
Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
It’s too early to say. The science in this area is still emerging. There is evidence that low GI foods take longer to digest and help you feel satisfied for longer, but none that you’ll eat fewer calories at the next meal.
Because it’s industry practice to label seasonal oils (oils that aren’t consistently available across the year). In Europe it’s now mandatory to detail the types of vegetable oils used in a food product. So it’s no longer permitted to use the term “vegetable oil” on a label.