Expiry date vs best before date: What's the difference? FSSAI explains how to read your labels | Health - Hindustan Times
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Expiry date vs best before date: What's the difference? FSSAI explains how to read your labels

By, New Delhi
Jun 01, 2024 04:04 PM IST

Ever wondered the difference between 'best before' and 'expiry' dates? Here’s an easy guide by FSSAI to read your food labels correctly.

Packaged food items generally come with 'best before' and 'expiry' date printed on labels. In most cases, the food packets which have gone past their 'best before' date are tossed away. For sure, the food items which have passed the expiry date are thrown in the dustbin. Ever wondered the difference between 'best before' and 'expiry' dates? While 'best before' indicates that the quality, flavour or crispness of food may not be the same beyond prescribed date, expiry date states that the food items are not safe to use. (Also read: Label claims on packaged food could be misleading: ICMR)

When it comes to buying and using packaged foods, reading labels is of utmost importance to determine the kind of ingredients they have and whether or not they are safe to use on a particular date.(Unsplash)
When it comes to buying and using packaged foods, reading labels is of utmost importance to determine the kind of ingredients they have and whether or not they are safe to use on a particular date.(Unsplash)

When it comes to buying and using packaged foods, reading labels is of utmost importance to determine the kind of ingredients they have and whether or not they are safe to use on a particular date. Certain foods are more prone to bacterial growth after a period of time and expiry date helps people understand when they are not safe to use.

Best before date

"While buying food products, always check date of manufacture, best before use and date of expiry. Date of manufacture tells you the date of manufacturing and packaging. While best before date indicates the date up to which the food is in perfect shape to consume," as per a video posted by FSSAI handle on X.

This means if a certain packaged food is packed on 10 April 2024 and the best before date is 3 months, then this food must be used by 10 July 2024, to make sure the quality, taste and nutrients remain the same. However, post the best before date, the food may still be safe to eat.

"After the best before date, the food product may lose taste, freshness, aroma or nutrients. It does not necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat," as per FSSAI.

Expiry date

The date of expiry on the other hand indicates the date after which the food is unsafe to consume. While food can still be consumed post best before date, it can be have side effects on your health post expiry date.

"If expiry date is June 30 2020 then after this date the food item is unsafe to use and can be harmful for your health," says FSSAI, adding, "never consume the food whose expiry date has passed, as it may be unsafe to eat and may cause health hazards.

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