5 Things You May Not Know About Best Before Dates

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Did you know that every year, the average single-family household in Toronto throws out around 275 kilos of food?  That means that across the city about 1 in 4 purchases end up in the garbage.

One reason might be that you are throwing out food that has passed its “best before date”. But passed a best before date does not mean best to throw away.

5 facts that might make you think twice the next time you’re cleaning out your fridge

1) Best before dates and expiration dates are two very different things.

A product’s expiration date indicates the last day that product can be safely consumed. The best before date tells the consumer the time period that the food is optimally fresh. It has nothing to do with the product’s safety.

2) Non-perishable foods will display a best before date and not an expiration date.

In fact foods like crackers or cereal aren’t required to put any date on their packaging, but often do voluntarily. After that date has passed they may become slightly stale, but won’t do you any harm.

3) Perishable foods can often be consumed after the best before date.

The food might begin to lose some of its flavour and nutritional value but that does not mean that the product is in any way unsafe.

For example, an egg that is passed its best before date might be harder to poach as the yolk is more susceptible to breaking. But the egg is still fine and when scrambled up would taste as good as ever.

4) When in doubt, throw it out.

A lot of food is safe and edible after the best before date, but it’s important to check your food before you consume or donate it. If your food has changed colour or appearance, or has developed a bad smell, then it should be thrown out regardless of the expiration or best before date.

Foods that contain pathogens such as dairy, chicken or ground beef should not be eaten after their bet before date.

5) North York Harvest will accept donations that are passed their best before dates but NOT EXPIRED food.

We accept and distribute food donations that are up to 3 months passed their best before dates with the exception of baby food. Before you donate please make sure that none of your donated food has expired, and that the packaging has not been opened or damaged.

So next time you’re cleaning out the cupboards, think twice about what you’re tossing or donating. Your food donations make a big difference to family in need but always think of donating food that you would eat yourself.

For more information on how to donate food to North York Harvest or to find out more about why we raise funds to purchase food click here.


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