From time-to-time, we may offer products on clearance that have gone past their Best Before date.
This article explains how Best Before dates work, and what is required and permissible to sell products beyond their Best Before Date.
New Zealand law requires all food manufacturers to provide a date for a product’s Best Before, or Expiry (Use By).
Best Before vs Use By
It is important to understand the difference between a Best Before date, and a Use By date.
USE BY – Use By Dates are legally required on short shelf life and high risk products where products may pose a food safety risk if sold beyond that date. This is commonly seen on Meat, Dairy and Delicatessen products.
Use By Dates relate primarily to FOOD SAFETY. It is ILLEGAL to sell a product after it’s USE BY date.
BEST BEFORE – Best Before Dates are generally speaking an indication of how long the product will store and still be in good condition for use. Manufacturers usually give a Best Before with a margin of error so that if products are held in less than ideal conditions, they will not be liable early deterioration and poor product quality.
With proper storage conditions most products are perfectly fine, well beyond their Best Before date – and are legal to sell as long as it is in suitable condition.
Best Before dates relate primarily to FOOD QUALITY. With proper storage, most products keep well beyond their Best Before dates.
All products are not made equal. Different products have different risks.
High Risk products include anything with a USE BY date.
Moderate Risk includes products that although stable, are liable to poor taste and quality issues through aging. Examples include: Nuts, Preserved Fruit, Cereals, Flours
Low Risk products are ones that by their nature are extremely stable, often due to their core ingredients having preservative qualities (eg. Sugar, Acidity, Salt), or due to the packing processes used (Canned, Heat Treated). Examples include Confectionery, Syrups, Canned Goods.
* This article is intended as a guide only and does not contain info on all aspects of food quality and NZ food law. Content contains personal opinion based on industry experience.