【Health and Lifestyle】Difference between ‘Use By Date’ and ‘Best Before’

One is about safety and the other is about quality.

You may have noticed that there are dates printed on a food package, but have you ever wondered what the difference between ‘use by date’ and ‘best before’?

Read on to make sure that you are not wasting food.

One thing Miss Wai Ting remembered seeing when she was in her first year at uni, was her flatmates throwing a bunch of foods away, simply because it was past the ‘best before’ date. This made Miss Wai Ting really really angry. You may ask “why? they did nothing wrong though”.

Oh boy… read on and let Miss Wai Ting explain it to you, why she got so angry and upset with her flatmates…

Use by date= safety of the food

Best before= quality of the food

Use by dates is often used in foods that may go off quickly, such as meat and seafood. The dates are used as a guideline for the consumers to let them know that they must consume the food before the date listed.

Best before dates on the other hand is simply like a recommendation. It recommends the consumers to eat this food before the date listed in order to enjoy it at it’s best quality. But it doesn’t mean that it is not safe to eat. It is still edible.


This bag of potatoes have a Best Before date.


This bottle of milk uses a Use by date.

Also, incorrect handling and storage of food can make the food go bad even before the Use by Date- remember the foods are not genetically modified in which there is a timer counting down the number of days it got left before going bad. So don’t just look at the date, use your other senses to determine whether the food is safe to eat i.e does the food look rotten? Does it give off an unusual smell? Does it taste bad?

So next time you throw something away, make sure you check carefully first.

Miss Wai Ting


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