Expiry Date & Best Before Date: What’s The Difference?

If you’re starting a business that sells food products there are a number of things to consider. One of those things is the effect of an expiry date or a best before date on the products you might purchase or sell. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between the different dates and what the implications are for your business.

Table of Contents

What is an Expiry Date?

An expiry date, or what is often called a ‘use by date’ is the date which a food product should not be consumed after. Whilst a product might smell or taste fine after this date it may still be unsafe to eat. Products that include meat or dairy are some of the most common examples of products that require an expiry date.

Can I sell a Product After its Expiry Date?

In Australia, food products cannot legally be sold after their ‘use by date’ as they may pose a health and/or safety risk. This is why it is important to have clear labelling and to identify goods that are close to expiry.

What is a Best Before Date?

A best before date is an indicator of when the food may start to deteriorate in quality. Products purchased after this date may still be safe to eat if they’ve been stored appropriately and remain unopened. Consumers can determine whether a product is safe to consume after its best before date by examining its smell and appearance. If the product appears to be of the same or similar quality to what one would expect then it may be safe to eat. Ultimately, consumers should use their own discretion when deciding whether to consume such goods.

Can I sell a Product after its Best Before Date?

Products that have passed their best before date can be sold providing they are still fit for human consumption.

Are there any Products that don’t Require a Best Before Date?

There are some food products that don’t require a best before date. The main examples include:

  • Products where the best before is more than two years e.g. canned foods. This is because it is hard to accurately predict how long the goods will keep.
  • Bread – This can be labelled with a ‘baked on’ or ‘baked for’ date.


In summary, expiry dates indicate when a product is no longer suitable for consumption whereas best before dates indicate when a product might begin to deteriorate in quality. Products that have reached their expiry date may not be sold legally in Australia, whereas products which have reached their best before may be sold if they are still fit for consumption.

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