The Difference between “Use-By” “Sell-By” and “Best-By” Dates

Confusion over date labeling leads to billions of pounds of food waste every year. Bob Brackett, PhD CFS, Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology and IFT member explains the difference between “use-by,” “sell-by,” and “best-by” dates.

Use-By
This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten; mostly because of quality, not because the item will necessarily make you sick if eaten after the use-by date. However after the use-by date, product quality is likely to go down much faster and safety could be lessened.

Sell-By
This label is aimed retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

Best-By
This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

Brackett also points out that smell and taste are not good indicators of whether or not a food is safe to eat. 

This infographic on FutureFood 2050 includes statistics about global food waste.

Source: Bob Brackett, PhD, CFS, Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology and IFT member
FutureFood 2050


Categorized under: Food Safety
Learn More

World without Food Science
World Without Food Science

This video series explains the role that food science plays in ensuring a nutritious, safe and abundant food supply.
       

FutureFood 2050
FutureFood 2050

How will ingenuity will feed the world? Learn how with interviews, news and videos featuring the stories of scientists, prominent figures, influencers, and personalities in both the food world and beyond.
       

Day in the life of Cory Bryant
Day in the Life of a Food Scientist

What is it really like to be a food scientist? What do food scientists do each day? Learn more about what it’s like to be a food scientist in the words of people who do it every day.