How much notice do you take of 'best before' dates?

Joined
16 Oct 2012
Local time
4:42 AM
Messages
517
Location
Spain
Website
www.helium.com
When I was a willing but unpaid helper in my grandmother's grocery shop in the 1960s, the concept of a 'best before' date was still a long time in the future, yet nobody seemed to go down with food poisoning. One of our neighbours won't use anything once it's passed its guideline date - which is great for me, as I'm quite happy to use it if she won't!

What's your take on this? If something looks okay, smells okay and tastes okay, I'll use it, even if it is past its date, and I've never had food poisoning, or inflicted it on any of my guests.
 
My mother has not yet forgiven me for an incident many years ago. It comes up each and every Christmas without fail, and each and every time she finds something that's BBdate is overdue.

My mother was in hospital after a hysterectomy on the run up to Christmas. My other brother & sister were still at home and at school and my husband and I were called into action. We lived +200 miles away, had basically had to drive up in 2 cars (one was a company car) and look after my borther and sister. We basically worked a split shift over the Christmas and New Year period, with one of us working whilst the other "sibling & mother sat"... We had gone through her fridge looking at what was there and what was in date. Whilst going through the fridge, I came across a Christmas Pudding that had been opened - I checked the date, last year, so didn't think anymore of it - other than regestering that it was not a vegetarian pudding, so I wasn't interested in it. Along with quite a lot of stuff all out of date and most not veggie, it was thrown and we went shopping to restock the cupboards & fridge with stuff we cook eat. We were after all living there for nearly 3 weeks and doing all of the cooking.

Come Christmas Day and having collected my Gannie, and my mother only out of hospital the day before, we served a Christmas Day lunch that we had made from scratch. When it came to the pudding we got out ours, cooked it and brought it upstairs to serve to all... looks of confusion and questions, where was her pudding? what's the difference, this one is in date, and vegetarian so all of us can eat it.

A long story cut short, my mum and Grannie had been 'feeding' once a week for an entire year. feeding being spirit based... my mother likes her alcohol. Stuart and I don't really drink. She and my Grannie had been looking forward to this Christmas pudding they had so tenderly nurtured all year...


I actually take little to no notice of BB dates. I use common sense and have never had food poisoning or gotten ill from eating anything, but I wind my mother up something wonderful, because I re-use packaging such as spice jars and until we went off to cycle around the world and sold/gave everything away, I used to have spice jars with dates back to 1990... the contents of course having been refilled many many times....
 
There are 3 types of date put on food in Britain.

The first is the 'display until / sell by' date. This is purely for the shop (usually a supermarket) and can be totally ignored by the consumer.

Next we have the 'best before' date, this does exactly what it says. The food concerned will be at its best before the date shown, but will not suddenly become toxic the next day/ week/ month. An undamaged tin of beans several years past it's best before date should be perfectly edible.

Lastly we have the 'use by' date. This is generally found on meat, fish eggs, dairy produce and the like. This is where you have to be more careful and take more notice of the date, but tbh, I'll generally go on how something in the fridge smells / looks rather than what it says on the packaging.
 
I'll probably take note of the year, but the day and month are optional....:wink:

Even eggs, I've eaten them a month after the date, and they are fine. Not as fresh, obviously, but perfectly edible. I rely on my senses.

Funnily enough, my colleague today found a bag of food in a bin and beside the obviously mouldy stuff was an unopened punnet of perfectly fine tomatoes, and a 4 pack box of eggs, so after a discussion of the importance of dates on eggs, he took them back to base to have for lunch. When we checked though, the eggs weren't even out of date yet!
 
I'll probably take note of the year, but the day and month are optional....:wink:
Even eggs, I've eaten them a month after the date, and they are fine.

never worried with eggs either. If they float in cold water I don't eat them. If they are sligtly boyant, then the get very well cooked and if they sink like a stone, you can usually eat them with minimal cooking...
 
Glad everyone else is sensible too. Satnav, love the story about the Christmas pudding. Arch, sounds like there are a few perks to the job you do.

On the subject of eggs, we divide our time between the UK and Spain. All the eggs in Spain are free range, and around 1.50 Euro a dozen (£1.25) for large eggs. Not only are they cheaper than UK eggs, they taste better, so when we go back, I take enough eggs to last for the trip. Last year, with illness and ferries cancelled due to bad weather, our trip lasted 6 weeks instead of 4. We hard boiled the last of the eggs to eat on the journey home and they were perfectly fine. They must have been about a month out of date by then.
 
Uhmmmm: harmful bacteria cannot be seen, smelled or tasted (health and hygiene for caterers)
In saying that, I'm quite ok eating some out of date food stuff myself, would not willingly feed anybody it, though.
I would not eat out of date eggs, eggs should be as fresh at they can be.
 
I would not eat out of date eggs, eggs should be as fresh at they can be.

I think some people are more resistant... I was brought up on a private water supply, nothing other than a sand filter and regular checking to ensure no dead sheep or deer up stream (anything else you drank!). I have lived most of my adult life also off mains water, so still private water supplies. Brown water from either peat or from clay, was the normal - think can't tell if flushed toilet and no way of checking that you have come out of the bath clean (great fun as a kid). The result is that for the first 12,000km of our tour we never treated any water at all - neither of us needed it. But when I first met my husband, he could not drink stream/mountain water and therefore would not drink water that I could easily drink (and prefered to). It has taken him years of knowing me and living away from 'mains' everything to develop the ability of drink most water.

As for eggs - well. A better test is the floating test especially with free range eggs away from supermarkets, so think farmers markets, driveways etc... if it floats when raw, don't use it. It has too much air in it, and air can only get into the shell over time (the shell is porous) which means it is old. The freshest eggs will sink like a rock to the bottom of the bowl and not bounce because they have no air in them. Dates are simply there as guidelines and dates on free range eggs, where the hens are allowed to roam, are entirely related to the day the egg was found - not necessarily the day the egg was laid. These 2 day do not always match. Over the last 20 years or so of various people's free range eggs - of the home grown variety, we have had no issues whatsoever using the floating method when dates are long since 'gone' and have never once been ill from an egg and we love runny egg yolks.
 
You are right, SatNav!
My friend took me for a holiday in Cairo, to visit her family.
Having lived here for many years, she took bad food poisoning from a dodgy fish her Mum cooked.
I did not touch the fish :D
 
I thought I would add this Best Before Date to your list. Found on my emergency ration whilst out cycling just now...
"Best Before (a friend nicks it!)" (top left hand corner)

Naked.jpg
 
When I was a willing but unpaid helper in my grandmother's grocery shop in the 1960s, the concept of a 'best before' date was still a long time in the future, yet nobody seemed to go down with food poisoning. One of our neighbours won't use anything once it's passed its guideline date - which is great for me, as I'm quite happy to use it if she won't!

What's your take on this? If something looks okay, smells okay and tastes okay, I'll use it, even if it is past its date, and I've never had food poisoning, or inflicted it on any of my guests.
One major change since then is the way in much of our food is produced. Then, 1960's, most was just "grown". Now its "forced". This forcing of the food growth is partially to blame for the best before date & why food seems to "go off" quicker & easier these days.
This forcing of the food is done to meet the demands of the consumer, who wants everything then & there. No longer do we have to wait for foods to be "in season".
 
I never look at the dates.
Not sure if this is true:
On a bottle of mineral water it had words to the effect...........Mineral water from Switzerland. Pure and refreshing after 20 million years slowly percolating up through the rocks under the Swiss Alps. 'Best before March 2013'
 
I have become very expiration date conscious over the years as I prefer to know what I am eating. I personally don't like stale baked products and those are the dates I tend to pay more attention to and also can stuff as I just believe one might never know the effects. However, I don't believe that I would be too adverse to against something that only expired a week ago. After two weeks I become skeptical and any point after that I do not believe it should be consumed.
 
Back
Top Bottom