Luckily for students, minimising food waste and therefore saving money is simple. Label jargon just needs a bit of de-bunking. It seems silly to think that knowing the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ could save so much money, but just think about that 60%. That’s a lot of food.
So here’s a quick cheat sheet for understanding food labels:
Best before date
This is the date by which time the product will no longer have optimum flavour or quality – eating something after the best before date is not unsafe, only less preferable. Save it!
Sell by, or Display until
These phrases are for the instruction of shop staff rather than consumers. If products are past these dates, it means that it is advised that the shop does not stock them anymore to be on the extra-safe side. Save it!
This is the date that, according to the manufacturer, the product will no longer be edible. For meat or fish, it is worth sticking to this. For less risky products like fresh fruit and vegetables, looking, smelling or touching them will tell you if they really are inedible.
This is most commonly found on food that expires quickly. If the product is past this date it is better to be safe than sorry, particularly with meat or fish. Bin it!
Evidently, looking for the ‘use by’ and expiry date is the easiest way of being safe with food. Other phrases are only there for shops, supermarkets and wholesalers.
Surprisingly enough, food labelling is controversial enough to earn the EU’s attention. Hopefully with the EU discussing the simplification of labels on an international level, sorting good food from bad food will become a whole lot easier and household waste will be reduced. Until then, it’s worth knowing your stuff and using the money you save to buy more biscuits. I mean uh, saving it.
If you liked this article, discover more fresh food ideas at The Fresh Fresher.