In 2017 the consumers organisation Fundashon Tienda pa Konsumidó Boneiru (FTpKB) discovered
food items in many supermarkets that were past their dates of expiry. Many consumers do not know what the date of expiry on a food item means. So we give you an advice and will try to clarify.
Unkobon advises consumers to pay attention to whether the expiry date has passed on the items they want to buy. If the packaging says “use-by” (“t.g.t.” in Dutch) and the date has passed, the item may be spoiled and cause illness. You should definitely not buy such items after the date has passed.
While items saying “BB”(best before or “t.h.t.” in Dutch) are still safe and the chance to become sick is minimal. In the worst case the taste will not be optimal. You can still buy items on sale with a “best-before” date that has (almost) passed. If that date is far in the past, however, it is better not to buy them.
Date of expiry and use-by date
There are two ways to say something about the shelf life of food items. When the packaging says “BB” (best before or “t.h.t.”), the producer or importer guarantees the quality of this item up to and including the specific date – if the consumer follows the storage advice. If the best-before date has passed, the retailer may still sell the product (unless it is spoilt). Opening the packaging will invalidate the best-before date.
Very perishable food items must have a “use-by” (or “t.g.t.) date. The package will state “use-by” followed by the last date that the item –if properly stored– may be consumed without danger to health. Some items do not have to state a best-before date. Examples are chewing gum, drinks with more than 10% alcohol, kitchen salt, and bread and pastries that are eaten within 24 hours after they have been produced.
If the shelf life of a food item depends on the way it is stored, the packaging has to state how it should be stored.
- ‘Keep refrigerated’ means at a maximum temperature of 7 °C. But it is better to put the fridge on 4°C.
- Put the items that should be used first in the front of the fridge or larder.
- Freeze items. Even cut meats and cheese can be frozen.
- Keep your food supply low, so that you minimize the amount of food you throw away.