HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR FOOD LABELS!
Are you as torn between wanting to be safe and not wasting food? We understand that Food Labels sometimes a challenge to read? Worry No More. We have put together this information for you to be able to make wise informed choices, and save money in the process!
How To Understand Your Food Labels
In order to not waste good food, the first thing you need is to be able to read the food labels confidently! Lets discuss common scenarios below!!
The Best Before Date: (About Quality)
What is it? It's the date that the manufacturer has determined it's in it's "best quality". These are often displayed as BB/MA2025MA15 you can Clearly tell their (Year-Month-Day) of optimal freshness:
- Doesn't guarantee food safety.
- Does not apply to opened packages.
- No set standard for establishing Best Before Dates.
- Food may still be sold after Best Before Date
- Just because it's past its date doesn't necessarily mean it's too old.
*Use your judgment on this. Every year thousands of "still good" food gets thrown into the landfill, that was still consumable. Some companies put Best before dates unnecessarily early - resulting in unnecessarily wasted and repurchased food.
**On the flip side, just because an item is before its best before date doesn't make it safe either. ALWAYS check if package is damaged, odd smells, looks wrong, cans are dented or if seals are broken or leaking and never buy or consume any foods that have these "red flags."
The Packaged On Date:
“Packaged On” is required to be shown on in-store foods that have a shelf life of 90 days or less. You will often see this term on in-store products at the deli, bakery or meat department.
The Expiry Date/Use by Date: (About Safety)
This is NOT the same as the Best before. Expiry dates are found on products where the nutritional ingredients need to be stable. This food has been specially processed or formulated to meet particular dietary requirements. These components cannot be assured past the expiry date, they should not be used past the expiry date.
The Best Time to Check Dates:
The best time to check dates is at the grocery store. Be sure to buy products that give you an ample window of freshness. Get the most out of your food window even before coming home!
Staying Fresher Longer:
All product containers are NOT created equal. For instance, a loose bag of spices VS one with a lid. Once a spice bag is opened it's exposed to a constant flow of air and will "age" much more quickly than a bottle. The same goes for milk. If you are planning to consume these quickly, it is not as much of a problem.
Also, when you buy bottles you don't have the problem of things spilling, which is another preventable waste!
Lastly, you can't reuse the packers but you can reuse bottles! Choose to reuse and help the environment! If we all do our part we can make a difference!
Should I Eat It or Toss It?
There is no easy answer, but here’s a list of resources to consider.
- The Canada Food Inspection Agency says you can eat food after the best before date but that looking at food is not always a reliable source of information.
- EatbyDate is a searchable database for how long food really lasts. The authors of this site are unknown but they claim to rely on various sources including the USDA.
- StillTasty.com is another searchable database for how long food really lasts. The authors of this site are unknown but they also claim to rely on various sources including the USDA. This site listed the greatest tolerance for foods I looked up.
- FoodBanksCanada provides a chart and guidelines for distributing food past the Best Before Date.
- The USDA launched the FoodKeeperApp where people can search or browse food to determine recommended storage life.
Hope you enjoyed the Tips!
We are so glad you are here! Let us know if you have any more helpful tips you would like us to write about!
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