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86% Of Bargain Hunters Happy To Eat Food Past Its Best Before Date

May 24, 2021, 10:00 AM
  • Danone yogurts are to have their expiry dates replaced with best before dates
  • The majority of those polled by LatestDeals.co.uk would eat food past its best before date
  • Some people indicated they would eat food months and even years later

Recent news reveals that dairy company Danone has begun producing its yogurts in pots without an expiry date in an effort to reduce food waste, instead going with a best before date as a marker of whether the product can be eaten.

Being flexible with best before dates is a sentiment also felt by bargain hunters from money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. Out of over 2000 people polled, 86% revealed they would be happy to eat food after the best before date.

Similarly, when polled on which foods they would eat after their best before date, 20% said they would eat all listed. The most popular were bread, cakes and cereal, with just under 10% going for vegetables and fruit after their best before date.

Several users pointed out that the best before date wasn’t the same as a use by date, with Sara saying: ‘Best before means it’s better to eat before that date, but it’s not off. Use by means you have to use it before that date.’

She added: ‘I only look at dates on eggs, meat and dairy. If it doesn’t smell or look funky then it’s still good to eat.’ Lorna agreed, saying: ‘If it’s best before then no issues, but if it’s use by then bin it once it’s gone over.’

Some said their family members had eaten food well past its best before date and lived to tell the tale, with Martha saying: ‘Depends what it is to be honest, my son had a pot noodle last week that was a month out of date. I don’t think it will do any harm. I’ll throw it away if it’s over a few months and I find it in the cupboard.’ Lois had a similar story, saying: ‘My Dad bought butter in March that was yellow labelled. He finished it today and said it was fine. Makes me wonder if I waste a bit too much!’

Others offered wisdom from their grandparents, with Harrison saying: ‘My grandmother would say if the cheese had gone dry and furry, just cut that bit off.’ Mandy’s grandparents operated in a similar fashion: ‘Even off milk was never wasted in my house. I’m sure my granny cooked things with it, and unless it walked off your plate under its own steam you were expected to eat it!’

A number of users indicated they were very relaxed when it came to checking out their food. Richard said: ‘I’ve got no issues with best before dates. Mayonnaise, rice, drinks - no issues, only the use by dates get binned.’ Terry was even more lenient, saying: ‘I don’t think I even check the dates!’ Daniel backed him up: ‘Nothing gets thrown in my house unless it’s mouldy or smells. I don’t even remember the last time I checked a date on anything.’

Rebecca said that it’s best to just be observant. ‘I use my nose and eyes. If it looks okay and smells okay I will use it - with the exception of seafood.’ Mark agreed, adding: ‘It depends what it is. If it’s meat then maybe I’ll go up to a day past the best before date, but I’ll use dried things like pasta and powder up to months later if there’s no visible rotting such as white spots or mould.’

A couple of users had simple rules for whether they’d eat foods after their best before date. Yasmin provided the questions she asks: ‘Is it growing mould? Is it smelling funny? Is it slimy? Has it changed colour? For eggs, does it float? If the answer is no then eat it, if you answer yes then bin it.’ Nicola also had a simple rule, saying: ‘Depends on the food. Dairy no, tins yes, frozen sometimes.’

Some people were surprised that anyone would bin food past its best before date without even checking it. Todd said: ‘I go to a warehouse that specialises in past best before dates. It’s my staple shopping and makes up at least half of my food intake.’ Roger added: ‘I’m shocked at the no votes. I worked at a greengrocer for 10 years - your perspective on best before goes out the window.’

Fiona had a stronger viewpoint: ‘What on earth did we ever do before we were told when to eat food by? I finally gave up on custard powder from 2016 as it had lost its taste. I’d been happy to use it until then! As for use by dates, I smell and check the visuals. It’s not like Cinderella, where it will change on the strike of midnight!’

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, said: ‘So many of us will be guilty of throwing food away when it was probably still good to eat, just because it was past its best before date.

‘As our wise community members have pointed out, the best before date is a general indicator of when food is at its best - it shouldn’t be viewed as strictly as an expiry date.

‘You’ll save plenty of money by examining food the way our ancestors did, before these labels were invented - by having a look, smell and feel before eating it!’

*Names changed for privacy reasons

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