Article about “Best Before” dates

I hope it’s appropriate to post here, but I think that as preppers, we probably pay particular attention to those “use by” dates – I know I do.  I review my inventory according to “use by” or “best by” dates, but I’ll certainly be more reluctant to toss foods that are beyond those dates.  best-before-labels-scrutinized-food-waste-concerns


  • Comments (4)

    • 3

      I fairly ofetn eat food that is out of date; the longest was something like seven years and it was fine. A bulging can is a different story…..

    • 3

      I am glad you posted this article. It was helpful.

      In general, I find all the different wording regarding dates to be frustrating and unhelpful. When I do an internet search on the topic of how long a certain food lasts, I’m always sorry I even looked and the answers that sound authoritative are often wrong and usually confusing. “Best by” dates don’t provide any value. Some foods with that wording will last almost indefinitely, and others will go rancid from the oils or acid or something else in some unknown (to me) amount of time. Obviously there is no perfect way to date stuff, as temperature of storage and other factors will impact duration. But I really wish there was a better system. I regularly eat food that is out of date but would like to know a better way than guessing and hoping — or tossing food that is still perfectly good.

      Some foods are easy. I can easily tell if milk has gone sour. Or my if cucumbers are well past edibility.  But what about peanut butter?  Or canned tomatoes?  Canola oil? I’m not sure I should rely on my sense of taste or smell with all foods.

    • 3

      That would be great if packaging had both labels on them.

      These crackers are best by 4/15/23 and you should use by 8/15/23. And maybe they add a third label called you are cheating death if you consume by 5/15/24.

    • 3

      I can’t read the article but I think we have lost the skill of knowing when food is past its best and so people have come to rely on the dates. Some people are obsessed by it and won’t eat something past it’s best before others are less risk adverse. Personally this is how I read them:

      ‘Use by’ for fresh products – if it’s beyond this by more than a day be wary!

      ‘Best before’ for shelf stable foods – it’s going to be past its best – taste and texture may not be as good – but it’s probably still usable, for instance I was date checking my pantry and found 3 tins of carrots that were a month or so out of date (we don’t tend to eat tinned veg but keep for ‘emergency’) tins weren’t showing any issues so I used them in the soup I was making and will replace when I’m next at the shop.

      I admit though I grew up before these dates were really a thing and we would often be asked by grandparents to touch, smell and taste (usually milk) to see if things were off but I realise my teen locust’s probably don’t share this skill because the way we buy food now is greatly changed from when I was growing up. My grandmother always used to say ‘if in doubt, cast out’! 

      • 1

        I am leaning more to the ‘if in doubt, cast it out’. Not worth getting a stomach bug, missing work, cancelling appointments, and feeling crummy over $2 in lunch meat.

        Getting down a solid first in first out rotating schedule of food will prevent you from finding yourself in these predicaments hopefully.

    • 2

      For those interested in this topic, just read another enjoyable piece on the topic. Made me feel better about eating out of date food!