Ministers finally settle age-old row about when you can eat food past its best before date

Wrap said it had issued the guidance because there was an increased risk of food surplus after the “closure of most of the hospitality sector” during the coronavirus crisis.

A Wrap source said, “the key point is that best before dates are about quality, not safety and appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture”.

The source added that “once the Best Before date has passed, it’s fine to use your senses to judge whether or not to eat the food. If it looks, feels, and smells okay, you should be able to eat it safely”.

Peter Maddox, the director of Wrap, said: “Our guide will help by giving clear advice on how best to redistribute food that’s exceeded the Best Before date.

“The law states that all food with a Best Before date can be sold, redistributed and consumed after that date, as long as it’s still good quality, but we appreciate that isn’t understood by all, or universally implemented.

“So, our aim is to make this common practice.” He added: “We estimate that over a typical year, around half a billion pounds worth of food is likely to be thrown away from homes linked to a Best Before date, that’s 180,000 tonnes.

“Knowing the difference between Best Before and Use By is one of the biggest ways to stop food waste in the home.

“A Best Before date is only a quality guide, and you can use your judgement as to whether it’s still good to eat.

“Use By is the safety mark and there to protect us. No food should be sold, redistributed or eaten after the Use By.”

Do you ever ignore best-before dates? What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken to avoid food going to waste? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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