3 Differences Between Expiry & Best Before Date of Food

Many people don’t know that expiry date and best before date are not the same. In fact, many people use them interchangeably thinking that they mean the same thing. Well, let me use this medium to inform you that expiry date and best before date are two different terminologies meaning different things and serving different purposes.

In this article, I will explain what each date marking found on food packages means and also introduce to you, the concepts of “use by” date and “durable life date”. I will however lay more emphasis on the expiry date and best before dates because they are the most commonly used on food packages.

Definition of Terms (Date Markings on Food Packs)

Expiry Date: It is added to a food package to tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume. You should never consume food after the expiry date.

Best Before Date: This is the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. The date does not indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily tells you that the food is no longer safe for consumption.

best before date
Photo Credit: yummymummyclub.ca

Sell by: This is specifically added for sellers of the products. Most sell-by dates are found on perishables like meat, seafood and milk. The date is a guide for stores to know how long they can display a particular product. After this date, they MUST not sell it.

So, what are the important differences between EXPIRY DATE and BEST BEFORE DATE? Each difference is explained in four pages – navigate through the pages by clicking on pages 2 to 5 below. By the time you are done reading this, you would find out that it is not every food that expires and not every food you should throw away after some dates.


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Ahmed Ogundimu
Ahmed is a Food Scientist/Technologist first of all. A Seasoned Blogger, Astute Marketer, Food Enthusiast and Manchester United Lover. I read anything and everything available so I know so many useful and useless things.


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  1. Wow!…a reader is a leader, gonna maximize this knowledge very well. thanx 4 this open eye info.

  2. Well in as much as I appreciate your article, I don’t think it is advisible for anyone to take or consume any product after best before date because any product whose quality,taste,aroma etc are lost, the safety of such product can not guarantee. You cannot emphasies on what the after-effect will be after consuming such product.

  3. This is very detailed, instructive and concise. I have always wondered at the difference but never took time to check it out.
    The information was and is still immensely helpful. Thanks again.

  4. I never knew the difference between an expiry date & best before, I used to throw away my stuff. Now I know the difference, thanks

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