Food Expiration Date Labels – Do You Know What They Mean?

Everything is becoming modernised in Nigeria including the way we shop. With the introduction of Shoprite and online food shopping we are gradually moving away from the traditional markets. But do we understand the labelling on the food that we buy from the supermarket regarding expiration???? Some labels have a sell-by date, others a use by and others a best before date. What do they all mean?

  •  Sell-by date

This is for the store, letting the shop owners know how long a certain product can be displayed on the shelf. You should buy the food item before this date passes to make sure it’s fresh.

  • Best Before/By date

This date helps specify when a product is at its peak freshness. Buy and use the item before this date for best quality. However even if it has passed this date you can still use the item but the quality will be reduced. I think at this point I should add that I have eaten many products that have gone past their best before date and they taste just fine to me. I even feed my family with it sometimes, I just don’t tell them and they don’t even notice a difference in taste.

  •  Use-By date

Like the best before, these dates tell you when a product will start deteriorating in quality and flavor. Again, it’s best to buy and use products before this date for best quality, but consuming the product a few days late won’t kill you.

  • Closed or coded dates

These are packing codes that track the product when it is being shipped. These codes are typically a series of numbers and letters that indicate dates and times the container was filled, and places of manufacture. (They look something like this: 045B97 04112008). They should not be interpreted as use-by dates.

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