Woman checking fridge

Free Food Saving Memo

Reminder to check before you chuck

Do you know the difference between a best-before and a display-until date? If not, the likelihood is you're throwing a lot of food away unnecessarily. We've a free food labelling memo for you to print out and stick on your fridge, so you can check before you chuck.

Step 1: Choose black & white or colour and print out

Step 2: Grab a magnet and stick it to your fridge

For more ways to avoid food waste and cut the cost of your groceries, see 12 ways to STOP wasting food and drinkHow to get free (or cheap) food and Supermarket Shopping Tips.

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Use-by vs best-before dates

As we say in the food saving memo above, when it comes to the different labels on food there are a few key points to remember:

Use-by dates:

  • Mean exactly what they say - eating anything that's past its use-by date is risky, even if it looks and smells fine.
  • This applies to perishable foods, like dairy, meat, fish and chilled meals.
  • If something's past its use-by date, it's best to bin it.

Best-before dates:

  • These usually don't have anything to do with safety - it's just the manufacturer's view of when food is no longer at its optimum quality.
  • This applies to longer-lasting foods, like frozen meals, tins, sugar, pasta, breakfast cereals and dried lentils. (Though NOT eggs - see below).
  • If something's past its best-before date, you don't necessarily need to chuck it - use its appearance and taste to decide. It might have lost some of its flavour or texture though.
  • The further away the best-before date was when an item was bought (ie, the longer its shelf life), the longer it's likely to last after the best-before date's passed.

Display-until and sell-by dates:

  • These are there to warn shop staff when to take a product off the shelves. They're not instructions for consumers (although you might be able to use them to get a discount).
  • They typically apply to fresh produce.
  • As a consumer, you can ignore these labels - check use-by and best-before dates instead.

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