Full list of products that are safe to eat after their best-before date

MANY food items in your kitchen might be safe to eat after their best-before date – and it could save you a lot of money.

Currently, many foods are sold with use-by dates but now in an effort to tackle food waste, Co-op is replacing use-by dates on its own brand yoghurt with “best before” labels.

The move is designed to encourage people to use their judgement before getting stuck in, rather than immediately throwing food out after a specific date.

In January of this year, Morrison’s also decided to scrap use-by dates on its own-brand milk, instead putting best-before labels on 90% of the products and recommending customers use a sniff test to check their food before eating it.

It comes as food waste organisation Too Good To Go found that we lose around £300 a year on chucking out food past its best before date, and in the current cost of living crisis it could make all the difference.

Best-before refers to the quality of the food while a use-by date relates to food safety. According to the Food Standards Agency, you shouldn’t consume or freeze food and drink after its use-by date, but you can eat food past its best before.

Reducing food waste in this way has grown more popular through services like Too Good To Go, who sell magic bags of food to people for discounted prices. One shopper bought £50 worth of food from Greggs for just £2.50.

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Here’s a list of products that are safe to eat past their best-before, as long as their appearance is ok (i.e. no discolouration), they smell and taste normal, then they should be fine to eat or drink.

Milk

As long as it looks, smells and tastes OK, milk is fine to consume after its best before date.

According to charity Wrap, we throw out 490million pints of the stuff every year, putting it as the third most wasted food or drink item in the UK.

The best way to tell if it's OK to drink is to make sure it doesn't smell or taste sour, or have a lumpy texture.

Yoghurt

Again the look, smell and taste test is crucial here for assessing whether it's safe to eat. If stored unopened and correctly in your fridge, yoghurt can keep for weeks after its best before.

This is because of the acid in the product, which helps keep bacteria at bay.

Hard cheeses

Cheeses like cheddar or parmesan are safe to eat after the best before date has passed. You can easily cut away any small amounts of mould and safely eat the rest, as long as it's mould-free.

You should avoid this for soft cheeses like goats, Too Good To Go says mould can travel more quickly through them.

Bread

Storing bread in the fridge can help it keep for up to two weeks after its best before date.

Freezing it (before its use-by) can also help, and toasting it from frozen doesn't take much longer.

Telling whether it's usable is fairly simple as it will smell or taste bad, but more obviously will often grow a bluish-green mould.

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Dried pasta

Dried pasta is probably one of the best foods to consume past its best before, as it can keep for up to three years.

All you need to do is make sure it's stored in an air tight container or packaging.

Rice

Here you have to be careful – dry white rice can last for years like pasta if stored in an airtight container, but not brown rice as it doesn't contain the same preservatives.

Your white rice should be fine even if it's a little stale, but look out for rice weevils (small pests which can also be found in flour).

However, cooked rice is best eaten as soon as possible.

Biscuits and cereals

According to food charity Food Cycle, biscuits and cereals also have an impressive shelf life of weeks after their best before, lasting up to as long as six months.

Fruits and vegetables

While this might come as a surprise, and the general look, smell, taste rules need to be applied, Food Cycle say some fruits and veggies can be eaten a week after their best before.

Just make sure they're not growing any fur.

Eggs

An extra three weeks of life can be added to your eggs if you keep them in the fridge.

720 million of them are thrown away each year and with food prices soaring, it might be worth a try.

If you're unsure about whether they're usable, float them in a bowl of water. If it sinks, you're good to go, but if it floats then its time to buy a new batch.

Canned goods

Canned food can sometimes sit at the back of the cupboard for years before being thrown away.

But due to the sterilisation process of packaging food into airtight cans, they can be eaten for years afterwards.

Honey

Ever see those sugary crystals forming on your honey? Don't worry, those are OK. Simply place the jar or bottle into some boiling water to return it to its original state.

Sugar

Sugar, also used widely as a preservative itself, can keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight container.

Jams

Speaking of sugary preservatives, Food Cycle say jams should be edible for three to five years after their best before. But keep an eye out for any mould growing on the surface.

Vinegar

Not unlike sugar in its use as a preservative, vinegar will last long after its best before.

Soy Sauce

If kept sealed, soy sauce will last years after its best before because of its salt content.

Frozen food

Freezing your food to extend its life is a good idea (although not after its use-by date).

You should try to eat said foods within three to six months though, as the quality reduces over time.

Bicarbonate of soda

A slightly random option, and not something to spread on toast, but nevertheless useful. It will keep for years after its best before, although it can be less potent as a raising agent for those homemade cakes.

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