Use By And Best Before Dates

Did you know that throwing away food because of its best-before date often means you are throwing away perfectly good food?

The best-before date doesn’t mean food will be off after that date, it just means it is no longer in peak condition but is still quite edible.

Most packaged food will have best-before dates and can still be sold and eaten after this date, however it may not taste as good and could have lost some nutritional value.

Vegetables rarely come with a best-before date, in this case use your common sense, give it sniff and a gentle squeeze to decide if the item is edible or not, most vegetables can be eaten long after they are purchased if stored sealed in the fridge, however they won’t have as many nutrients as when first purchased or harvested. Fresh is always best.

Canned products with a shelf life of over two years and don’t need a best-before date, if stored correctly they should last a long time. If there is any sign of damage to the can, or it’s not sealed properly don’t eat the contents.

With more bulk bin and refill stores popping up around the country it can be hard to figure out how fresh the products in the bins are as most are not labelled. Al you have to do is have a chat to the staff and they will be able to advise you. Most items are non-perishable and last a long time without being in a sealed container.

Use-by dates are to be adhered to especially when you are dealing with risky foods such as chicken, meats or shellfish, then always follow the use-by date, but foods such as yogurt, milk, fruit and cereals are often fine as long as you have stored them appropriately.

Most perishable foods will have a use-by date and as long as it is stored unopened and according to directions on the packet it should be safe to eat before the marked date. Food with use-by dates can not legally be sold in New Zealand after the date has expired and as such should not be eaten.

For a helpful guide to food storage times follow this link to

If you have food you’d like to share with people in your area, and it’s not past the use-by date check out Olio here.


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