Debunking myths about food expiry dates

One of the leading causes of food waste at home is not being aware of the difference between the best-before date and the best-before date. Do you know this difference?

Would you like to take the quiz on best-before and use-by dates? Check if you can distinguish when a product is fit for consumption and when it is not, and test your knowledge!

How many questions did you get right? Whether you didn’t miss a single one or got them all wrong, we recommend you read the rest of the article to learn more.

The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition [in Spanish] explains it as follows:


It is the date on which the producer recommends consuming the food while retaining the quality intended at the time of packaging. However, after this date, food consumption may still be safe.

What does it mean that the intended quality is preserved? That after that date we can no longer use the food? Not at all, as long as the storage instructions are followed and the packaging is not broken. However, after the best-before date, food may begin to lose flavour and texture.


It is the day or month until which the food can be safely consumed.

Therefore, no food should be consumed after its use-by date, even if the packaging is intact. If food is frozen shortly after purchase, consumption beyond the “use by” date may be safe, provided you do it properly. The instructions on the packaging should be followed to a T, for example, “cook without defrosting” or “place in the freezer until expiry date”.

Before throwing away a product because the best-before date has passed, check if it looks, smells and tastes good. Also and make sure that the packaging is undamaged. If this is the case, you can use it without any problem. You should also consider the instructions regarding its conservation once you open the packaging, as the Catalan Food Safety Agency recommends (in Catalan).

Infographic by Fundesplai, based on information from the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition.


In general, fresh foods, such as minced meat or fresh fish, include a use-by date because, soon after production, they are no longer safe for human consumption.

On the other hand, the best-before-date label appears in refrigerated, frozen, dried (pasta or rice) or canned products, including vegetable oil and chocolate.

In short, it is important to take a moment to pay attention to the instructions for preserving the food we buy, as otherwise, we may either put our health at risk or waste food that we could consume in complete safety.

What do you think about all this? Did you know the difference between best-before and use-by dates? Share your ideas on this! We want to know your opinion and experience so that, between all of us, we can reduce food waste.