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Mumsnet users talk Best before and Use by Dates with Sainsbury’s

(671 Posts)
EllieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Jan-18 14:05:35

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The team at Sainsbury’s would love to hear your thoughts on Best before and Use by dates for food and drinks. Do you know the difference between Best before and Use by dates? And which dates, if any, are you most likely to ignore? What foods are you most likely to bin if they’ve gone beyond their Best before date? And, more importantly, how do you use up food that’s gone beyond its Best before date – please share with us your tips! What food storage ‘rules’ do you tend to follow? And finally, how do you ensure you don’t have to throw away food?

Sainsbury’s says “We know there’s often lots of confusion around Best before and Use by dates, as well as how food should be stored properly to avoid it going to waste. So we want to hear your tips and tricks to avoid food going in the bin unnecessarily.”

Add your comment, tips and views to this thread and you will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will get a £300 Sainsbury’s voucher.

Thanks and good luck

Standard Insight T and Cs apply

Lemonadesea Thu 04-Jan-18 15:08:31

I am cautious on use before dates if it is meat or fish, though still think smell and look are a good guide to whether something is off, happily use things after best before date....lots of uses for stale bread or cake in trifles and as croutons and so on. Cut the bad bits out of vegetables and fruits and so on. What I have always wondered is how freezing things changes timelines.

vickyors Thu 04-Jan-18 15:13:15

I tend to read them, but actually pay little attention to them. With chicken, I might be slightly more cautious, but generally I go by look and smell. I grew up in a rural area where we got meat from local farmers, it seems a nonsense to throw away good food if it's still fine. I wait until veg is clearly not ok... with red meat, I ignore use by and best before. With eggs, I give them a couple more days than use by, then make a little crack and give them a snif.. never been ill, never had any issues..

Cheekyandfreaky Thu 04-Jan-18 15:28:35

I tend to see them as a guide rather than a rule. I inspect stuff carefully if it is on or after those dates, paying attention to appearance, smell and texture. Any visible mould would make me throw it out as well as sour/ fishy smells of unusual for the product.

Having said all of that though I will always search and root around for products with the longest best before/ use by dates in store. We tend to buy little and often so we don’t have that much food waste but that’s because oddly we love supermarket shopping and we take pride in using things up.

biffyboom Thu 04-Jan-18 15:36:38

use by
if I haven't eaten food on the final day, I will freeze it if possible, or cook it so it can be kept a couple extra days.
Liquids, I will just dispose of.

best before
I will keep tinned and dry foods indefinitely for myself as they are fine to eat and I hate wasting food, but wouldn't serve it to anybody else, especially children.
If it is an item like bread, I will keep it until it soils/goes mouldy.

Belmo Thu 04-Jan-18 15:42:33

I largely ignore best before dates.
I always go by use by dates, except fruit and veg, which I just check with my eyes!

torthecatlady Thu 04-Jan-18 15:45:47

If it's meat, it usually gets frozen in this household. But if we were to eat it fresh I would maybe go one day over the use by date.

I really don't listen to best before dates. If it doesn't look or smell off, it's fine. grinWe have strong stomachs here.

nomoreheroes Thu 04-Jan-18 15:48:11

I normally don't use eggs past their use by date but only if I'm planning to boil them. If I'm baking or making say an omelette then I would risk it a few days past. Dairy products and meat, I use my common sense...if it looks and smells ok then I use it. Might be more fussy with fish. Best before, well that is absolutely only a guide which I largely ignore. Though in the case of some baking products it really does make a difference to the outcome (e.g. old yeast might result in poor rise).

sharond101 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:08:20

If it smells ok I go for it. I think companies generally try to cover themselves by putting shorter dates than needed on things.

Butterfly1975 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:12:13

I find it really confusing as some products seem to go off before the use by date and others seem absolutely fine way beyond it. Aldi and Lidl often don't have a best before or use by date on fruit and veg so will go with a colour/smell test rather than just throwing it away. I'm much more careful with meat though and especially fish.

amusedbush Thu 04-Jan-18 16:14:27

I use the dates as a guide. Even with "use by", which is a little more definite than "best before", I go by the look and smell of food before I use it. I worked in catering as a teenager so I'm confident about how to properly store/cook/reheat meat, etc. If something is getting to the end of its stated shelf life and I'm unlikely to use it in the next few days, I'll freeze it.

Rainybohoho Thu 04-Jan-18 16:19:17

I always stick to use by dates, but I completely ignore best before dates! I have always been very careful not to waste food. Usually I try to cook more and freeze portions or I have been known to make some very creative dinners with what is hanging around the fridge!

WilmaJean Thu 04-Jan-18 16:19:57

I generally ignore best before dates - as long as it hasn't been opened then tinned or Jarred goods will be fine to use. If it's something like bread then I just go by if it's off or not. I'd be more cautious with use by dates, although I'd go by look and smell with things like milk, yogurt, cheese - if it looks/smells fine then I'd use it. I would stick to use by dates with meat/fish unless it is smoked in which case I might use it a day or 2 after its use by date.
I would use up left over veg that's past it's best by trimming it and then roasting it which I could add to pasta etc.

Royalsteph Thu 04-Jan-18 16:21:27

I freeze a lot of food on the day of purchase. I buy a lot of it with the yellow sticker on, so majority of it is on its best before date. These get largely ignored as I'll use the food at a later date. We meal plan monthly/weekly. My slow cooker is used quite a lot so any veg that's looks a bit sad goes in there.

ilovekitkats Thu 04-Jan-18 16:23:46

I use bread and milk past their dates unless smell off/go mouldy. I give out of date tins/jars to my mum as she will use them.

I never use meat products past their use by date.

I have bought out of date products from companies like Approved Food, but only certain items.

Some things don't keep. i found some biscuits the other day that were BBE 31.08.17 and they were soft so got thrown out.

MacNcheese87 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:23:54

I tend to ignore best before dates, doesn't matter if it's bread, vegetables, tins/packets. I'll use my eyes and nose to guide me if it's off or not.

Use by dates have a bit more jurisdiction in this house, but only on high risk items such as meat. We will regularly eat yoghurts or milk after their use by date, and sometimes meat but ONLY IF it looks good, was stored correctly and is only a day over. (Its meat, not Cinderella. Why would it go off at the strike of midnight?)

I try to plan my meals so there's not much waste. I buy what I need when I can, anything that's left over gets shoved in sandwiches for hubbys lunch the next day! Complete with out of date yoghurts!

LittleMe03 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:27:51

Use by items I always stick to the use by date, if the item has a timeline on it then it should be used by the day stated. (My personal opinion)

Best before means the item will be be tastiest and at its best quality if it was used before that date. I sometimes go a few days, weeks , months over best before items depending on what it is!

We don't tend to have a lot of waste. Most food that we buy with a use by date gets frozen on the day of purchase if it's not going to be in my meal plan before it runs out of date, or if meals and plans change then I will freeze things when I realise they are not going to be used before out of date

Royalsteph Thu 04-Jan-18 16:33:53

Also to add on to my previous post. Any meals that don't get eaten get frozen (that can be frozen) and used during the week when we have freezer dip. Best before dates are a guide not the law, I take them with a pinch of salt.

ncullinane Thu 04-Jan-18 16:37:03

My view on Best Before dates and Use by Dates has definitely changed since being a home owner and having children. When I lived at home I was really fussy about eating anything that had "gone out of date" and my mum would always frown at me for it. However now I pay the bills and buy the food I am much more frugal with it all, generally so long as it smells ok and looks ok with no visible mould I will eat/cook it. The only thing I am more cautious with is meat especially raw chicken which I'm funny with even if it's in date. My downfall is bad meal planning so things tend to go over before I've used them up but if the date has passed I will still use if it's ok.

Winningbeauty Thu 04-Jan-18 16:37:48

I had this same conversation with my DH the other day. He is a believer of chucking everything once the date has expired.

I tend to notice use by dates on consumables such as meats, fish, and tend personally to not go over these and use them as a indicator for which ones to cook first if I have done a shop at beginning of the week.

Best before I understand to mean that the food is best before a certain date but can be consumed after depending on the item and perference. For example bread. For me if perishables such as this are past but not yet completely gone then if appropriate I'll stick in the freezer. Eg white bread to make breadcrumbs or for meatballs in the future.

This helps me to reduce waste but I do need to concentrate more on ensuring that it better able to use foods such as veg and meats before their dates.

ReelingLush18 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:38:39

Always a bit gungho about sell by/use by dates TBQH and would probably be more likely to 'smell food' to see if it's off or not than pay attention to dates (within reason obvs). The children, however, seem to be obsessed by such details and I'm not sure where they've got it from! Very annoying when they refuse to eat a yoghurt that's a day beyond it's 'use by' date... GRRR

Quietvoiceplease Thu 04-Jan-18 16:42:15

I am very relaxed about best before dates, and only really pay attention to use by dates on meat/fish and fresh produce like houmous or coleslaw.
I absolutely hate food waste, so try and freeze anything not likely to be used in time. Sometimes I freeze things a day or so after their use by date, with a mental note that only DH and I eat it, not the children.
I also use an app called Olio which enables you to share surplus food and also request other people's surpluses if need be - there are lots of supermarkets and cafes which distribute surplus stock this way (including Sainsbury's I believe), so worth signing up if you have a smartphone.

HALA Thu 04-Jan-18 16:49:57

I use a lot of products after their use by dates, except meat. Best before means it would taste better before that date, but use by usually means it may be off by then. But I find a a lot of products are still ok.

Shoom72 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:50:53

Just go with your nose and common sense, products like crisps and tins can be months out of date but meat and fresh produce not more then a day or 2 over the best before dates. i love getting reduced items and freezing lots of the food items for later use with my family.

Nicola27 Thu 04-Jan-18 16:55:41

I don't stick to best before dates as this is an indication that the product is at its best before a certain date. Instead I go by look and smell and decide if the item is still ok to eat. I do tend to stick to the use by dates as this indicates when an item should be used by. Although if an food item is only out of date by one day I give it a smell and check and very often use it but I don't let on to the rest of the family as they would probably not eat it.

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