Millions of tonnes of food waste every year is attributed to a lack of understanding between date labels. There are two types of date labels regularly used throughout Malaysia; expiry date labels and best before date labels.
Expiry date labels are added to food packages as an indication to customers of the last day a product is safe to consume. Food after the expiration date has passed should not be consumed – they should be discarded.
Best before date labels are a suggestion by the manufacturer to the consumer on which date the product would be at its peak quality; this includes a change in its texture, aroma and taste. Assuming the consumer has stored the product properly, a lapse from the best before date does not mean the food is unsafe to consume or that it indicates any sort of spoilage once a product has passed its best before date. Best before dates do not relate to the safety of the food and can therefore still be consumed past this date.
It is concluded that expiry dates are used as a signifier for health and safety reasons, while best before dates tend to be about quality. Many people tend to dispose perfectly edible food past the best before dates, assuming it is no longer safe for consumption. An increased understanding and use of date labelling on food will prevent and reduce food waste.