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"Best before"

“Best before” or “At best before”… At which date the product becomes risky?

Here we are at the supermarket doing our usual shopping. Of course, we are all used to checking the date of validity of the food products we buy. However, we must also know how to distinguish between two types of indications that tell us on how long such products may still be consumed, namely either “Best before” or “At best before”, etc. So the question here is the following: What difference is there between these two indications? Read on to find it out…

1- The indication “Best before” refers to the Expiry Date (DLC) of the product. Such date must be followed in all cases since, once that date has passed, and from a microbiological perspective, the product in question becomes a source of risk to our health. In addition, the manufacturer is liable to show that indication on its packaged fresh products. Once that date has passed, the product should no longer be consumed or sold or distributed freely. To give some examples of such products we cite: Meat, fish, dairy products, etc.

2- The indication “At best before” refers to the Minimal Durability Date (MDD) which replaced the BBD since December 13, 2014, date at which the INCO regulation came into force. Hence, if we notice that this date has been exceeded (for just a few days according to the French ANSES agency) on a product, the latter can still be consumed and it generally presents no danger, on the condition however that it was perfectly preserved according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Nevertheless, that product would have already lost some of its taste and/or nutritional characteristics and the manufacturer would no longer guarantee its organoleptic qualities (appearance, taste, smell, etc.). Also, this second indication appears mainly on grocery products (pasta, rice, sugar, etc.).

Finally, and regardless of the products and given dates, and in all cases, and even if the product is still “valid”, it is essential that we pay careful attention to what we eat. Therefore, it is strongly advised not to consume any food product whose packaging is inflated or deformed, or in the absence of a “pop” sound when opening a glass jar, or in the presence of an unpleasant odor, a discoloration, mold traces, etc. All these symptoms should alert us to one thing: It’s better for us to throw this food and avoid any health hazard.

About Denise Abou Jamra

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