To be able to sell your food to customers, you have to add food date terms to them as a way to tell when it does go bad. But somehow, there is too many iterations of the same thing. Best-by, use-by, expiration date, and more food date terms that can be confusing for regular customers who simply want to understand how long is their meal good for.
This is why in this article, we will attempt to explain and decipher what each and every Food Date Term mean, so you can make an informed decision if you should consume that product or you are better off throwing it away. Let’s jump right into it.
(Credit: Estée Janssens)
Why Food Date Terms Exist?
You will probably find those on almost every product. They are voluntary tho and not all items are required to add a term on their food. actually, the only food that is required to do so is baby food due to the importance of such products for the sensitive souls of our children. other laws require that dairy products are removed upon expiration for the general safety of the population.
Food date terms are there to help the consumer understand how long they can store the food and the impact of storage on the quality of the food.
Different terms describe different things and they aren’t all the same. This is why we will explore each and every food date term in the next paragraph.
Most Popular Food Date Terms
Here are some of the most popular terms that you are guarantee to stumble upon while buying your product:
This date is meant to describe how long a product can remain while preserving it’s intended quality. it describes how long the product keeps it’s ingredients in the most intended way. it also describes the time before degradation of optimal quality happens.
Milk might not taste as fresh after the best-by date. an ingredient might not have the same strong flavor after the described best-by date. and so on.
The best-by date doesn’t describe the safety of the product, which means that food can be safe and tasty after weeks of the best-by date. which is why it’s not a measurement if food has gone bad or not.
This date is intended to describe how long an item can remain on the shelf for quality reasons. Some products would degrade rapidly if they are stored for way too long and will cause the taste to be unfavorable. which not only harms the company behind the products, but also the store that has sold the customer such product.
This is why manufacturers instruct the store owner to avoid having products on the shelf beyond the sell-by date. and as a consumer, you should avoid buying products after their sell-by date. They might be safe to consume (but not always safe) but their taste won’t be worth it unless in some specific products that can withstand longer periods of time.
The use-by date is essential especially for frozen products. it tells you the period in which the food is safe to eat and consume. This date is essential as products can’t last long beyond their use-by date and would spoil rapidly. At best, a product can be eaten after two days or so after the use-by date. a week is a stretch and risky, two weeks and it’s definitely spoiled already.
If you are consuming food beyond its use-by date, you should check for general signs of spoilage of food before using it to ensure you won’t end up with eating the spoiled product.
It’s a powerful date cause it indicates food that is no longer safe to eat. and it’s really hard to pin down such a date or the exact period at which the food is spoiled. Due to its clear meaning, manufactures have tended to avoid using it strictly. Make it too early and people will throw away plenty of food, make it too far and you may end up with people eating spoiled food because it’s before the expiry date.
(Credit: Vlad Frolov)
There is also plenty of factors that can influence food spoilage. Bad storage, horrible packaging, the difference in ingredients. All of these are factors that you can’t possibly account for. This is why expiration dates aren’t the best choice and your senses are your guide in these situations.
Why Food Date Terms Cause Confusion?
The confusion arises from the lack of regulation on the terms. different manufacturers use different terms which means the exact same thing. The use-by date is the same as the use-before date. but somehow manufacture decided that use-before sounds better so he just rolled with it.
The vagueness and the mystery aura in these terms also are helpful for manufactures. an uninformative consumer might give up understanding the terms and thus buy his products without looking at the date. which is an easy profit for the store and the company.
This is why knowledge is essential. arm yourself with knowledge so you can make an informative decision in your purchases and buy the best food for your family and house.
You can understand more and inform yourself to make better purchasing decisions by checking the following guidelines from the FDA themselves.
Is there is a food date term that’s confusion to you? Have some questions? leave us a comment and ensure that we will respond to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!