What foods can you safely eat past by the best before date?

Many food items can be eaten after their ‘best before’ date (Picture: Getty)

Ideally, you’d eat everything before the ‘best before’ date printed on the packet.

But sometimes, a random takeaway or an unexpected meal out means you don’t get time to eat everything from your food shop as and when you’d originally planned.

Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world, as you might still be able to eat it a day or two later – if it’s definitely a best before date (a guide to food quality) and not a ‘use by’ date (there for food safety reasons).

Here, we explain which foods it’s generally seen as okay to eat after the best before date.

Plus why it’s a different story for the ‘use by’ date.

What foods can you eat after the best before date?

Can you eat eggs after the best before date? (Picture: Getty)

Technically, anything frozen, dried or canned should be fine to eat just after the best before date. Again, it’s more of a guide, and the food might taste slightly different.

Here are a few examples:

Store dry pasta in an airtight container (Picture: Getty)
Peanut butter can last beyond the best before date (Picture: Getty)

This is all based on proper storage, mind, not just stuff you’ve left shoved half-open in the back of the cupboard.

If something is past its best before date, pay attention to how it looks, smells, and feels before you go to eat it. Food waste isn’t ideal, but don’t eat anything you’re not 100% sure about.

Can you eat foods after the use by dates?

The above shows examples of things you can, if they seem OK, eat after the best before date.

Don’t ignore the use by date, whatever you do (Picture: Getty)

However, you shouldn’t eat anything after its use by date has passed, says the UK Food Standards Agency.

The use by date is a food safety warning – not a guide. The displayed date is the final day the product should be eaten, even if the food looks totally OK and seems edible.

That’s because, beyond this date, there’s potential for bad bacteria to grow and even food poisoning to occur.

Iain Haysom, senior lecturer in food safety at Bath Spa University, previously told Metro.co.uk:

‘For example, if you consume fresh chicken after the use by date, there will be a higher risk of microbial and pathogen growth on the product, which will mean a higher risk of food poisoning and other illnesses.’

There are only two reasons you should eat something after the use by date. One is if you froze it beforehand – and the other is if you cooked and stored it as part of another item.’

Meat and fish are some examples of products that can make you ill if consumed after the use-by date.

MORE : What’s the difference between use by and best before dates on supermarket food?

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