Wasting food is still a big problem nowadays in the UK. In fact, according to a study published in 2018 by the WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme), 7.1 million tonnes of food is wasted by households and 250,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year is still edible. This is a significant amount of food, especially since a lot of this food could actually still be consumed instead of thrown away.
Understanding expiration dates
Amongst all the other information on the packaging, it’s sometimes difficult to find a product’s expiration date. To help you out, it’s important that you know how to differentiate between the following terms:
Best before… (Best by, best by end date): after this date, the product could taste different or have a different texture. However, there is nothing stopping you from eating it anyway!
Use by…: It’s best not to exceed this date on the packaging to avoid any potential health scares.
Expired products that can still be consumed
Aside from products that never go off such as honey, vinegar or wine, some products can still be used long after the expiry date stated on the packaging or container. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can keep a product for 10 years before you use it, but a few months to a year is absolutely fine.
Canned goods: These can be consumed long after their ‘best before’ date if their container is sealed and it smells okay.
Yoghurts: These can be enjoyed after the date on the container, except in cases when they contain fruit. You just need to make sure that the container hasn’t been damaged first.
Chocolate: Good news for chocolate addicts, you can easily enjoy chocolate long after the expiry date stated on the packaging. If there is a thin, white layer covering the top, it means the product has oxidised. But don’t worry, it’s not dangerous at all!
Milk in a UHT carton (Ultra High Temperature): You can still use milk that comes in a carton because it has been sterilised. It can, however, lose some of its vitamins and calcium, but the taste will remain the same.
Condiments: There is no problem with using ketchup, mustard and pickles that have exceeded their expiry date. The taste will remain the same, but their spiciness could be slightly affected. No problem!
Now you know everything you need to know to avoid food poisoning.