Best-before dates should stay

The quality of our food is also part of its safety

We should keep best-before dates on our products so we know the quality is safe to consume. (Keet Kailey)

We should keep best-before dates on our products so we know the quality is safe to consume. (Keet Kailey)

I like to know that the quality of my food is the best it can be before consuming it. 

Whether Canada should keep or remove best-before date labels on produce is a growing conversation. 

While best-before dates can be pushed, expiration dates tell us when the product is actually not healthy to eat. There are five types of products that require expiration dates in Canada: baby formula, meal replacements or supplement bars, meal supplement drinks, formulated liquid diets, and food used in low-energy diets. 

Despite all this, best-before dates are just as important and should be looked at closely.

According to the Agri-Food Analytics Lab Survey, 65 per cent of Canadians throw out unopened food because the best-before date passed, and 25 per cent rely on the best-before date as an indicator of food safety. 

A lot of people still rely on these dates for the safety of the food they’re consuming. I am a part of this group as well. There have been times where I’ve seen friends and family get ill from eating dairy products, meat products, or even products that are seen as nonperishables after the best-before dates. 

Products like non-perishables may not cause any immediate damage after the best-before date passes, but there are definitely minor harms you can examine after time passes. For example, stale crackers, pretzels, or peanuts leave a weird, rancid taste in the mouth. 

The survey also notes that “most microorganisms that can make people sick do not change the smell or the look of the food.” A best-before date provides an extra step of caution to avoid those microorganisms. 

The majority of Canadians are against the removal of best-before dates on product packaging, because quality is a part of the safety of our food. These invisible risks are not worth taking, and it should be up to the individual to decide the risk they take.

There is a sense of control I feel when I can decide with absolute confidence that some yogurt has gone over the due date, or that my milk, while it might look and smell fine, is not the best quality to put into my mouth.