The large debate concerning the expiration date and one of the best earlier than date

Today on World Food Safety Day (June 7th) experts are raising awareness of confusing labels.

Dr. Alison Jones, food technologist from the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering, emphasizes the fact that the best before date and the best before date are very different.

"Food manufacturers are responsible for determining the type of date on their products to give consumers guidance on how long the food product will keep before it spoils," says Dr. Jones.

"This is particularly important to determine the quality, nutrition and microbiological safety of food."

What is the difference between the best before date and the best before date?

An expiry date indicates that the safety of the product can no longer be guaranteed after the displayed date. Food should not be eaten after its expiration date and it is illegal for retailers to sell food after its expiration date for health and safety reasons.

Best before dates indicate that the product may suffer a certain loss of quality after the date shown, but should still be safe to consume. Provided the packaging is intact and / or properly stored, as food can spoil prematurely if exposed to factors such as temperature abuse, physical damage, damaged packaging and high humidity.

Most foods that have a best-before date should be able to be eaten for a while afterwards, and retailers can sell food after the best-before date as long as it is still fit for human consumption.

How do companies identify these date marks?

They test the growth of perishable microbes, the loss of important nutrients, changes in the water activity of food, or the physical, chemical, or biochemical changes that change food quality and safety.

If products require special storage conditions for the date markers to be effective, manufacturers can provide specific information on storage conditions on the packaging. This is mandatory for an expiration date where specific storage is essential for the health and safety of the product – so it is important to look for these on the packaging of food products.

Some foods, such as canned food, do not need to be labeled with an expiration date or a best-before date, although many do.

How long is food safe after the best before date?

It depends on the food itself – the best advice is to watch out for signs of spoilage, spoilage, and / or damage such as mold, slime, rancidity, off-taste or smells, staling, gas evolution, or damaged packaging.

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