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What You Need To Know About Date Labels

It is sad to say but one third of the food produced around the world is wasted. This problem doesn't just affect our wallets but also effects the world on a social and environmental level. Ten million tonnes of food are wasted in the UK alone and 70% of the comes from our homes. The fact that so much comes from our homes means that each one of us can have a massive impact on the world around us and each one of us can help.


One reason for wastage in the home is the confusion between use by and best before date labels on food products. This then leads to many people using each date label equally and sometimes throwing away food with a few days safety margin just to be sure. The confusion between best before and use by dates has contributed to a lot of food wastage and a large loss of money for everyone involved.


Best Before Labels

Foods with this label will be safe to eat after the date shown but only if they have been stored correctly. They may not be at their peak when it comes to the flavour and texture but the food will still be pretty good.

The main thing to remember is that best before dates are about quality and not safety. This means that the best before labelling predominantly describes the nutritional and sensory characteristics of the food. The best before dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dry and tinned foods. This labelling also includes foods with more than 18 months’ shelf-life.


Use By Labels

Foods can be eaten, and most can be frozen, up until the use by date, but not after.

The important thing to remember is that use by dates are about safety. Because use by dates are about safety, they are the most important date to keep an eye on! The use by labelling mostly refers to food safety issues. You will see use by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products and yoghurt. For the use by to be a valid guide, you must carefully follow storage instructions. Eating food after this date could cause food poisoning so it's definitely not a good idea to risk it.


So Why Is This Important?

Food wastage contributes around 8% of the earths yearly global greenhouse gas emissions. This number doesn't account for the non- edible food like egg shells but food that didn't need to be thrown away. Waste of edible food squanders all energy and resources used to grow, process and transport the food which then results in an unnecessary negative environmental impact. Just think of all the energy used to get that food to your home only for it to end up in the bin.

With just a few, small changes to our lifestyle we can, not only save a lot of money, but help the environment too. During lockdown we even wasted a third less food than normal which is a great step. This could be because a lot of us are home and are more aware of what's in the fridge meaning less wastage of forgotten items. We even baked a lot of banana bread to make sure we didn't throw away those overripe bananas!


What can you do?

Move recently bought items into the freezer if you don’t think you’ll have time to eat or cook them soon. When you get home with your shopping, transfer as much as you can straight into the freezer. If you have large packets of chicken pieces or fish, divide them up using freezer bags and freeze individual portions. It might seem like a lot of effort but you will definitely thank yourself later.

Dairy products are often forgotten at the back of the fridge. Why not grate odd bits of cheddar and mix with breadcrumbs for a savoury topping, or stir into mashed potatoes? If you're not sure what to do with the last bit of yoghurt you can use it up in fruit smoothies or as delicious toppings on breakfast cereals.

For Best before labelled foods you can often judge the safety and quality for yourself because these foods often show signs of deterioration like mould.

Doing your bit to reduce the amount of food that you waste can help you save money and help the environment in the long run!!

For more ideas visit this incredible Love Food Hate Waste website

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Three smoothie recipes for fruits and vegetables that are getting to the end of their life.

For those fruits and vegetable that you feel are on the edge of life, I have included a couple of delicious and quick smoothie recipes.

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About Me


Hi and welcome to Baking with Sally. I am a food scientist, chocolatier and baker and it is

my passion to promote mindful nutrition and food waste reduction through EXCITING and DELICIOUS recipes.

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