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Coronavirus food: Is it safe to keep food after its best before and use by date?

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Coronavirus has infected 38,168 people in the UK as of Friday, April 3. After implementing product restrictions, some supermarkets have started to roll back their limits this week. But as the Government mandates people visit supermarkets as infrequently as possible, is it safe to consume food which has passed its expiration date?

The Government waste adviser, Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), recommends people follow any package guidance regarding best before dates.

WRAP also says it is never advisable to consume food beyond its use by date.

Simply put, food is safe to eat past its best before date but not after the use by date.

But this guidance may differ depending on the type of food.

READ MORE: How to cook jackfruit

Milk

Milk has a use by date which should not be contradicted.

Experts claim milk may be drunk up to a week after the use by date if open or up to two weeks if not opened.

You can tell when milk has passed its expiration date as it will immediately turn sour and the smell and consistency will make it clear the milk is not safe to consume.

Cheese

Hard cheese has both a use by and expiration date, but experts say it can be eaten up to three months after its best before date or until the mould becomes overwhelming.

Soft cheese should be consumed within a week of their use by date.

Fish

Fish is usually safe to eat up to five days after the use by date, however, the official advice outlines fish should be cooked, eaten or frozen by the use by date.

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Meat

Red meat and poultry is usually fine to eat within a week of the use by date if it is chilled and opened, but the wrapping indicates it should be cooked, eaten or frozen before the use by date.

Processed meats such as sausages, burgers and products made with meat must be eaten up to five days after the use by date.

It is paramount to ensure to thoroughly cook sausages, burgers and products made of mince to ensure no cold spots remain.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables can actually appear fine for several weeks after their best before dates.

Even when items begin to ferment, it may in fact be safe to consume.

Fruit and vegetables can be frozen to use at a later date.

Advice

If you are in doubt about any food item, you should be sure to cook it thoroughly and ensure it is piping hot all the way through before consuming.

You should trust your eyes and nose, particularly when determining if items are safe to consume.

If something smells off or looks unsafe, it is best to avoid using it.

Mouldy items such as bread and fruit can release spores and make other foods turn mouldy more quickly.

If you are in a vulnerable group, you should always follow the packaging guidelines and keep to the suggested dates.


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