Explainer: Is It Ever Safe To Eat Food After Its Use By Date?


A “best before” date stands for the quality of the food. Although the manufacturer may decide that the product tastes best before this date, this does not mean it is unsafe for consumption.

What is the difference between a best before date and a use by date?

Foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables are usually safe to eat after their sell-by date, while foods such as meat and fish have a sell-by date that should be strictly adhered to.

A use-by date protects the consumer from the risk of poisoning, and this date must be indicated on foods that, from a microbiological point of view, are highly perishable and are therefore likely to pose an immediate threat to human health after a short period of time.

Is the sniff test enough?

Safe Food Ireland has warned that people should never eat food that has passed its sell-by date, but there is wiggle room for the best buy date.

“The use-by date is a safety measure and gives us a deadline that tells us when our food is no longer safe to eat,” it says.

“Even if your food passes the sniff test with flying colors, we have to strictly adhere to the best-before date, as the food can still be contaminated – and make you sick.

Is there any flexibility on these dates?

“While you should never eat food past its sell-by date, the sell-by date gives you a little wiggle room. It refers to the quality such that food can still be safely consumed after the specified date, but taste, smell or texture may be affected. “Best before” is used for longer shelf life foods such as pasta, canned goods, and breakfast cereals.

“Bacteria normally can’t grow on these foods, so food poisoning isn’t a problem.”

How much food is wasted in Ireland?

According to research conducted by the organization, 30 per cent of the food bought in Ireland is wasted and it is estimated that households waste more than €20 on food waste. Explainer: Is It Ever Safe To Eat Food After Its Use By Date?

Fry Electronics Team

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