Date
20 September 2017
One can of fruit tested by Hong Kong Baptist University was still safe to eat seven years after the best before date. Photo: HKEJ
One can of fruit tested by Hong Kong Baptist University was still safe to eat seven years after the best before date. Photo: HKEJ

Shelf life goes on long after ‘best before date’ expires

Some food, especially canned products, is still good enough to eat well after the “best before date” on the packaging expires, Apple Daily reported Monday, citing the results of a Hong Kong Baptist University study.

Researchers commissioned by the non-profit Friends of the Earth (HK) tested 81 unopened food items past their best before date and found that all still conformed to food safety and hygiene standards. One can of fruit was still safe to eat seven years after the date had passed.

Best before dates are normally used on pre-packed items, such as canned foods, candies and bottled drinks, and refer to the date up to which consumers can reasonably expect the items can be eaten safely. Use-by dates are usually applied to easily perishable food, suggesting that consumption after the specified time is likely to be harmful.

Some doctors and experts say nutrients can be lost in pre-packed food over time but packaging can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Celia Fung, director of the NGO’s environmental affairs office, said the study is designed to help cut down on wasted food.

A survey of 605 Hong Kong residents found that 22 percent tended to throw away food past its best before date, while only 38 percent would judge food appearance and color to determine if it is edible – suggesting that most people are are not clear on the difference between “best before” and “use by”. As many as 156 million food items are thrown away each year because they are past their suggested shelf life.

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/AC/SK

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe