10 foods you can safely eat past their best before date

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Supermarkets have been ditching best before dates on food products and it’s all part of an initiative to cut back on food waste and save money. But what foods can you eat that are past their best before date? Here’s an extensive list. 

There have been suggestions best before dates put people off eating items that are perfectly fine. Instead, the food ends up in the bin. 

Now, with the removal of best before dates, consumers are being asked to use their “own judgement” on whether something should be thrown away or kept a little longer. 

Best before dates should not be mixed up with use by dates – use by dates are all about food safety and they are usually provided on fresh and highly perishable products like chicken or fish. 

Eating something after the specified use by date is considered unsafe, and the UK’s Food Standards Agency advises against it. 

Remember – use by dates is a food safety warning, not a guide. The date displayed is the final day the product should be eaten, even if the food looks okay and smells completely edible. Beyond the specified date, there’s potential for bad bacteria to grow and even food poisoning to occur.

A best before date, on the other hand, is not about safety but signifies when the food is of the highest quality.

After the best before date, you may still be able to eat the product, but it may have a different texture, or not taste the best.

Frozen food – Most food deteriorates in quality when frozen, but it’s still safe to eat after the best before date as freezing an item stops the decaying process. 

Eggs – The Foods Standards Agency says “eggs are safe to eat for a couple of days after the best before date” and suggests doing so in cooking or baking where the white and yolk of the egg are cooked thoroughly. They also advise storing eggs in a “cool, dry place” and “ideally in the fridge”. 

Bread – If bread is stored in the fridge, it can be used for up to two weeks past the best before date. It might taste a little stale – that’s because the fridge will dry out the bread, but it makes great toast, Too Good To Go said. 

Biscuits – An unopened – and that’s important as they won’t be stale – a packet of biscuits can be kept a few weeks post best before date apparently. 

Dry pasta and rice – If stored in air-tight containers once opened to extend their shelf life, rice and pasta can be eaten up to 12-24 months after the best before date, BBC Good Food revealed. White rice, on the other hand, is refined, so the preservatives mean it’s unlikely to decay if kept in an airtight container. The natural crystallisation of starch in rice can lead to a stale taste over the years, but it’s safe to eat. Brown rice doesn’t keep as long as white rice. It can become oily and smell bad when the fat reacts with the air.

Canned food – According to BBC Good Food, canned soups and vegetables can last 12-24 months. “Once the best-before date is reached the quality may reduce but the food will still be edible,” they explained. Fun fact! Back in 1974, canned food found in the wreck of a boat that sank in 1865 was tested and although the food content had deteriorated in appearance, scientists said it was still safe to eat. 

Sauces and vinegar – “Vinegar is used as a natural preservative, so you can ignore that best before date,” Too Good To Go suggests. Soy sauce, on the other hand, is full of salt which is a natural preservative. If kept sealed, it should be fine years after the best before date.

Baking ingredients like flour and sugar – If kept in an airtight container, sugar is said to last indefinitely. Flour, if stored the same way can last up to six months, just note the 

Jams and spreads – Nut spreads can last three to four months if kept away from sunlight. Ideally store them in a cool, dark place. Honey, jam and syrup, on the other hand, can be eaten six months past the best before date, but keep them in the fridge. 

Cereals – If kept in an airtight container after being opened, they can last for six months. 

If something is past its best before date, pay attention to how it looks, smells, and feels before eating it. Food waste isn’t ideal, but don’t eat anything you’re not 100 percent sure about, and if you can put the food into a compost bin, it’s better than throwing it into the regular bin. 

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