Once a typical Nigerian gets a product for a price a little lower than its worth, curiosity kicks in and he/she wants to know the reasons the trader is being generous.
In addition to this thought, the Nigerian, more often than not, will unconsciously check the dates beneath or underneath the product. On many occasions, Nigerians put food or commodities that have passed the ‘best before dates’ right into the bin, when this food would have still been edible.
This is majorly because many consumers do not know the difference between the dates and actual ‘expiry date’.
In fact, many people use them interchangeably thinking that they mean the same thing. However, since you are lucky enough to have found this piece, you will find out the reasons the dates differ and the population of they that mistake the dates will reduce by one.
For the sake of emphasis, the ‘best before’ date is not the same as the ‘expiry date’!
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What the ‘best-before date’?
A best before date on a food package states when the durable life period of the food ends.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, durable life means “the anticipated amount of time that an unopened food product, when stored under appropriate conditions, will retain its freshness, taste, nutritional value, or any other qualities claimed by the manufacturer.”
This date can be found on a package underneath the words “best before” or “meilleur avant”.
The ‘best before’ date gives the assurance that certain properties of the product will be effective up to a very point. But it does not necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.
In order to decide whether the food is still edible, one should rely on his/her senses (sight, smell and taste).
The product should not be consumed if you find that the taste has been compromised, odour and appearance is odd or it’s exhibiting strange consistency.
Note: this only applies to unopened shelf-stable product. Once a sealed product is exposed to air it is prone to contamination. Thus, the ‘best before’ date no longer applies to it. However, this dating information they provide indicates quality not food safety.
What is an expiry date?
An Expiry, on the other hand, are dates are required for formulated liquid diets, foods, meal replacements, nutritional supplements and infant formula. If a food has passed its expiration date it should be discarded and not used.
According to food safety, expiry dates are required on certain foods that have specific nutritional compositions that could falter after the determined expiration date.
In other words, after the expiration date has passed, the food may not have the nutrient content as described on the label.
What’s the difference between ‘best before’ date and expiry date?
Expiration dates are added to a food package to tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume.You should never consume food after the expiry date.
For instnce, if doday’s day is 09/03/2021, any product with EXP08/03/2021 and backwards should not be eaten!
Best before date on the other hand tells you that the food is no longer in its perfect shape from that date. It may just lose its freshness, taste, aroma or nutrients. It does not necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.
Best before date is basically a quality indicator. This is the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. The date does not indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily tells you that the food is no longer safe for consumption.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandates that only five types of products need to be labelled with an expiration date:
- Baby formula and other human milk substitutes.
- Nutritional supplements.
- Meal replacements.
- Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets.
- Formulated liquid diets.
Best before dates are found on foods that will only stay fresh for 90 days or less. Some foods may be consumed even if their best before date has passed, unlike an expiry date.