Three myths about best-before dates ... busted!

Common best-before date myths, and how you can prevent food waste at home

MYTH #1: “Best-before dates and expiry dates are the same thing.”

BUSTED: This is the biggest – and most persistent – myth!

In Canada, there is a legal distinction between “best-before” and “expiry.” Only five types of food in Canada have true expiry dates, that is, you should not eat them once the date has passed. These five foods are: baby formula; meal replacement or supplement bars; meal supplement drinks, like Boost or Ensure; and formulated liquid diets and foods for use in a very low-energy diet – both of which require a prescription.

Best-before dates are about quality, not safety. The “best-before” date does not guarantee product safety, but it does give you information about the freshness and potential shelf-life of the unopened food you are buying.

MYTH #2: “I can’t eat eggs or drink milk after the date on the carton.”

BUSTED: Eggs and milk are safe to consume up to 2 weeks after their best-before date.

You can even freeze milk and get up to 3 extra months of use past its best-before date. According to Health Canada’s food safety page you can eat and even buy after the “best before” date has passed, though it may have lost some of its freshness, flavour and nutritional value, and its texture may have changed.

MYTH #3: “When in doubt, throw it out!”

BUSTED: This is tricky since this guidance has some usefulness. But should the garbage be your default for yogurt with yesterday’s best-before date? Not so much.

You can trust your senses: don’t eat foods that smell bad; if you see rotting or mold on produce, put it in the compost; if a can is bulging or leaking, discard it.

Want to end the doubt and learn some more surprising facts about best-before dates? Click here to download the FoodRescue.ca Food Consumption Guidelines.

Stay tuned for an exciting announcement about food waste education, coming in March!