I bet you have plenty of things in your kitchen that are past their ‘Best-Before’ date. I certainly do, and mostly they are fine to use. But when it comes to food supplements, I find people are more worried about products that are near or past their date. So here’s a simple summary of what it all means.
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A ‘Use-By‘ date is fixed. In the UK it is illegal to sell something past its use-by date because it could be dangerous.
The ‘Expiry Date‘ on a product is similar, but rarely seen in the UK.
But the ‘Best-Before‘ date is the one you will normally find. It simply means that the manufacturer considers that it will be in best condition up to that date. After that date, it will still be safe, but might not be so effective or might look discoloured.
Best-before dates are widely misunderstood and millions of tonnes of food are thrown away unnecessarily in the UK because people think it is not safe. As a result you may have noticed that some foods no longer carry a best-before date, so you can make your on mind up based on how it looks and tastes.
In food supplements, some ingredients tend to degrade faster than others, and they will often start with higher quantities (ie. more than the stated dose) so that there will be at least enough by the time of the best-before date.
Manufacturers will generally test samples and monitor batches to make sure they still comply as time goes on. They test for safety, deterioration and effectiveness, and try to assume that the products are stored in a normal home environment.
Our policy is that we aim to sell products with enough shelf life so that the product will be fully used by the time the best before date arrives. We occasionally offer products at a discount if the date is close, to avoid waste; and we do not sell products that are past their best before date.
Food supplements are perfectly safe to consume past their best before date, but in some cases might be less effective. Once open, you should consume them according to the label, as they will deteriorate much faster once the seal is broken.