So you open your fridge and take out a jar of tomato paste and it reads: Best if used by December 2015. Should you keep it or throw it away?

Best if used by, Expiration date/Use by & Sell by: what do these terms really mean????????

Many of us get confused with date labeling on food products and end up either throwing away good food or keeping spoiled food. This is harmful on several levels; failing to discard food on time may result in exposure to pathogens (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli), which are particularly dangerous to children under 5 years, elderly and those with compromised immunity (low immunity that could be caused because of an illness such as cancer). Moreover, throwing food away too soon contributes to food waste that is already a significant problem in developed and developing countries.

So a clear differentiation between the 3 terms needs to be made clear to all consumers.

“Sell by date” is most important and relevant for retailers. It tells them when they should take the product off the shelves. BUT, it does not mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.

“Expiration date/Use by” means a product should not be eaten after the date listed; throw it out.

“Best if used by date” refers to the quality of the product, not its safety. So it means that the product will maintain its maximum quality until that date, but it can still be safe to eat for a certain amount of time (depending on the kind of product) after the date has passed.

Hope that helps! Always remember to check date labels on food products for your safety and your family’s.

Source: CBS news

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