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The difference between Use by and Best before



At the end of 2020, EFSA (The European Food Safety Authority) has provided the recommendations to help food business operators decide when to apply the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date to their products.

The recommendations explain that ‘Use by’ more refers to food safety. The product can be consumed exactly until the date provided on the package, but not after, even if it looks and smells properly.

However, ‘Best before’ is more about food quality. The product can be safely eaten even after this date but its’ appearance may differ from the initial one.

By using these dates in a right way, food business operators will help consumers to understand when the food can no longer be eaten and when it still might be of a good quality.

The European Commission estimates that up to 10 percent of food waste generated annually in the EU is linked to the date marking on food products. Clear and correct information on packaging, better understanding and usage of date marking on food is expected to reduce huge amounts of food waste in the EU, while continuing to ensure food safety.

The EFSA recommendations might certainly answer and help on many questions raised either by consumers or producers.​


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Dr. Jelena Lysovienė

Senior Consultant, Life Science Expert

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