When we buy a certain food product, we notice that the packaging reflects, on the one hand, the expiration date and, on the other hand, the date of preferred consumption. But what is the difference between the two?
Simply put, the expiration date determines the deadline day from which the food is suitable for consumption from a health point of view. Meanwhile, the preferred consumption date refers to the day from which the food loses its properties, although eating it does not pose any type of health risk.
Date of Expiry
If, for example, the expiration date of a yogurt is July 8, 2021, from this date we should not eat it because it is not suitable for consumption. Now, it can be consumed until the same day, in this case on July 8.
The expiration date is used in all those foods that are very perishable: yogurt, milk, creams … They are products that, after a short period of time, their consumption may have some health risk.
Best before date
As regards the preferred consumption date, it is the day until which the product, as long as we have not opened it, maintains its properties intact . What happens after the date has passed? The food begins to lose properties, and therefore quality, but its consumption is still safe.
It is used in oil, legumes, cereals, soups, purees, eggs … The regulations establish that in foods whose duration is less than three months , the day and the month must be indicated. For foods that last between three and eighteen months it is sufficient to reflect the month and the year. And finally, for those that last for more than eighteen months, the manufacturer is only required to indicate the year.
What happens when the container is opened?
This is a question that we have all asked ourselves at some point. If, for example, we open a carton of milk on June 3 and its expiration date is July 8, can it last more than a month in the fridge in perfect condition and do we have to consume the milk earlier?
Both the expiration date and the best before date are established by the manufacturer based on very strict health and quality criteria based on specific temperature, humidity and sunlight conditions. Therefore, once the container is opened, the life of the product is significantly shortened.
Even so, in most cases, the time and storage conditions are reflected on the container once the container is opened .