Best before date & Last day of consumption
In Sweden we use two different date lables for food. The best before date is a quality label that indicates how long the manufacturer can guarantee that the product will maintain its quality – taste, color, crispness, resilience and chew resistance. This means that after the best before date, the quality can eventually become worse. But the food can definitely still be fully edible. In other words, best before date is not a label that tells the consumer that the product would in any way be dangerous to eat after the due date.
Last day of consumption is a safety lable indicating the last day the goods may be sold or given away and you should also not eat the product after the date has passed as it can become dangerous to your health.
Who decides the due date for food?
It is always the person responsible for the food, usually the manufacturer or the packer, who determines the durability expected on the product. The date lable is often marked together with a storage instruction. Everyone who handles the food, from producer to store, is responsible for ensuring that it is safe and that it is transported and stored as directed.
For most foods, there are no laws for the date labeling. The assessment for the date marking is based on sustainability tests and the experience of the producer and is regarded as recommendations.
Can you sell products after the best-before date?
Since food is often perfectly ok to eat and does not pose any health hazard after the best-before date has passed, it is allowed to sell products that have “expired”. The seller has the right to judge whether the food is still edible. It is not normally allowed to label foods with a new date labeling.
If the food is considered to still be edible, it may be used by the store to be cooked and sold as ready-cooked food. If the finished product then is sold pre-packaged, the store may state a new best before date. It is the store’s responsibility to assess the sustainability.
However, foods marked with the last day of consumption may never be sold or used as raw material or ingredient in the store after the date has passed.
Best before – good after!
Food does not become dangerous to eat after the best before date. Just be sure to store the food according to the instructions on the package. Trust your senses – Look, smell and taste.
Note: For people who are sensitive to bacterial listeria (the elderly, people with impaired immune systems and pregnant women) there are special advice on sustainability and some foods.