Picking the ‘right food’ for our kids is one thing; however, making sure they are consumed within the correct time frame is another. (As though all the numerous other parenting challenges were not enough, here comes another one)
How many of us are actually aware that the terms ‘expiry date’ and ‘best before date’ on food products cannot or should not be used interchangeably?
Expiry date on a food product is the very last date on which the product can be consumed. Technically, food is deemed to be spoilt beyond that date and can lead to severe illness if consumed. Expiry date is applicable to very few food items, mostly milk, by-products of milk and other perishables.
Best before date, on the other hand is an indicator of quality rather than safety. When food products surpass their best before date, they are still safe to consume although their quality, taste and freshness might be slightly compromised. So, while the food will not make you sick, it is not at its optimum as far as quality is concerned. Practically every other item in the supermarket has a best before date on it.
Having said this, when you do consume products past their best before date, it is very important to rely on your senses – sight, smell and taste. Trust your instincts – if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!
On the same lines, there is another terminology which we need to familiarize ourselves with, although it is more relevant to sellers of products. A sell-by date is a guideline for sellers to know exactly how long they can display/sell a particular product.
Some food items are a staple in every household with kids. Let us understand these concepts better in the context of these items.
|Food product||You rely on|
|Fresh milk||Expiry date|
|Baby formula||Expiry date|
|Eggs||Best before date|
|Bakery breads||Best before date|
|Dried pasta||Best before date|
|Ketchup||Best before date|
|Cookies||Best before date|
|Packaged fruit juice||Best before date|
|Frozen foods like nuggets, fries and fish fingers||Best before date|
|Fresh chicken, meat and perishables||Sell date|
So, if you’ve probably been wasting money besides perfectly edible food in the past, its time to get your facts right. The next time you are geared to mindlessly chuck a food item into the bin, take a moment – and, CHECK THE LABEL!
P.S. All of the above rules apply only as long as food has been stored properly and strictly in accordance with its packaging conditions.