Understanding Expiry Dates

DO YOU throw away food as soon as it reaches its best-before date?

FoodBank SA rescues surplus edible food from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. As an organisation it is our duty to provide our beneficiaries with healthy edible food which is still within its best-before or use-by date.

The sell-by, best-before or used-by date may be confusing or misunderstood by many, leading to many households throwing away large quantities of food as soon as it reaches its best-before date. The distinction which many misunderstand is that best-before dates, found mostly on shelf-stable foods such as canned goods, pasta, coffee and biscuits, refer to the guarantee by the retailer to their customers that they product is of the highest quality at that point and after the sell-by date the quality and taste may start to deteriorate. The sell-by date does not refer to the safety of the food.

So where do sell-by dates fit in? They are a guide for retailers, being a few days before the use-by date, and give consumers some time to safely consume the product after purchase — provided that the food was stored appropriately.

Products that are past their use-by date do not have their safety guaranteed and it is not advisable to eat them. Given the safety implications, it‘s illegal to sell or even donate food past its “use-by” date.

As a recipient of food donations, FoodBank SA has a responsibility to its beneficiaries to carefully check all products received at its warehouses. Hence we have quality checks for handling food donations, such as, checking all dates on all products and rejecting expired stock.

FoodBank SA would like to encourage all donors and supporters to donate any excess non-perishable foods that you may have this festive season to FoodBank SA.