How Long After Best Before Date (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 10 Days

All packaged food items come with a lot of important information inked on the outer wrapper. One of those is the best before date. It is also referred to as the expiry date, as per the preference. This date is decided as per various experiments conducted on the concerned food item so as to make out how far it stays palatable.

Going by the date is a good idea, but at times the dates are too precautionary, and throwing away a healthy eatable would ultimately lead to wastage of food as well as money.

How Long After Best Before Date?

The mention of best before date is based on the origin of the products. Dairy products rot earlier than non-dairy products. For the same reason, it is safe to consume non-dairy products for up to ten days after the best before date has passed. If the dairy products exceed their limit, chances are high that they are no more fit to be consumed.

Still, a two-day window is acceptable as the range mentioned is to be on the safer side. There are a number of factors that affect the duration for which the food stays palatable. The expiry date does not indicate the date for throwing away the food. It is just a mention to ensure that the consumers do not continue to store processed food for a longer duration.

If preservatives have been added, the expiry date can extend even longer. At times, a range is provided instead of a particular date. In such cases, the lower limit can easily be ignored. Since there are a lot of fluctuations in temperature and moisture conditions, wet items must not be consumed after the upper limit has passed.

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As far as vegan products are concerned, the ingredient list must be referred to. If there is no mention of the best before date, freshness parameters must be matched and optimum temperature must be maintained. After opening the seal, the food items must be stored in airtight containers, else they would not last till the mentioned date. Exceeding the limit is safe, but not beyond ten days.

In Summary:

Type of FoodTime
Dairy product2 days
Non-dairy product10 days

Why Does It Take That Long After Best Before Date?

It is essential to understand what happens to the food items once they exceed the best before date. The dairy products turn sour while some of them might even get spoiled by fungus. The date is no more applicable once the seal is opened.

Manufacturers provide the expiry date so that the consumers can get a clear idea of how long the particular eatable remains edible. This condition has a major prerequisite – the food item must be vacuum packed in order to last till the aforementioned date.

As far as non-dairy products are concerned, they might lose their taste or moisture quantity. If canned food is not consumed within a week after the expiry date has passed, severe diseases like botulism might develop in no time. Such dates are based on set standards of purity and freshness as declared by the respective food ministries.

Though the consumers are free to use the products after the specified date has passed, the companies can no more be sued for any health issues that arise as a consequence of late consumption. A different scenario arises in case the seal is broken or the product is originally found with molds or other bacterial growths.

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The best before date is purely an estimate in order to avoid consumption of stale food. Though it is not very rigid, consumers must not ignore it altogether. Irrespective of the type of food, delayed consumption is sure to increase the risk of food poisoning and other related issues.

Conclusion

Though not completely safe, there is no problem in consuming packaged food till a week after they exceed their expiry date. The said food should not be given to pets as well. One must make sure that only that much quantity of eatables are purchased that suffices the daily needs.

At times, proper storage conditions might extend the shelf life but that does not reduce the health risks involved with consuming old or rotten food. The dates should be strictly adhered to when giving packaged food to kids as they have a highly susceptible immune system. 

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/restud/article-abstract/63/1/1/1545054
  2. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/206175100.pdf
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