What Does “Best Buy” Mean on Food Labels?

Best Buy

You might have seen a date printed on food labels following various terms, including “Best Buy,” which seems confusing, and you may need to know what they mean.


The term “Best Buy” printed with a date on food labels indicates a recommended period in which a food item’s taste, texture, aroma, and overall appearance remain the best.

However, it is not a safety date, and you can still consume the food after the “Best Buy” date has passed, although you may not get a peak quality product.

To figure out this confusion, we have explained what “Best Buy” means on food labels and several other expiry-related terms, so you may decide whether the food is still consumable.

“Best Buy” Meaning on Food Labels

Best Buy Meaning On Food Labels

The term “Best Buy” has identical meanings to “Best By,” “Best to Use Before,” “Better if Used By,” and “Best Before.” Food manufacturers often print these phrases with a date on edible items to indicate the timeline in which the food will taste the best.

They calculate the “Best to Use Before” date using various techniques, such as tasting, performing lab tests, and overviewing the texture and smell of food by placing the products in different environments.

However, small manufacturers who lack testing facilities often print arbitrary “Best Buy” dates on food items by mimicking those of other products, as the U.S. FDA does not regulate the expiration date of food items except for baby food.


The USDA reports that an average American throws away food due to misunderstandings about expiration dates, wasting approximately $1800 per year, leading to a total of $162 billion loss for the entire country.

Similarly, you might have stood in front of your open refrigerator or kitchen pantry, checking the food items to see if they expired, and come across several terms instead of “Expires On,” which seems confusing. Right?

So, let’s discuss some terms printed on food labels that you may misunderstand and toss foods in the trash.

1. Labels Similar to “Best Buy”

Best Buy, Best Before, Best By, Best To Use Before

You might have seen “Best Buy,” “Best Before,” “Best By,” “Best To Use Before,” “Better if Used Before,” etc., with a specified date printed on the food labels. All these terms indicate a recommended time until the food is safe to consume and tastes perfect.


You may use the food even if the “Best Buy” date has passed because companies often write these dates by maintaining a considerable time margin to keep themselves on the safer side.

2. Use By or Use Before

Use By Or Use Before

The “Use By” or “Use Before” date is similar to the “Best Buy” date, but these are often printed on infant’s food, such as formula milk and cereals, to show a bit of seriousness and importance.

However, using products for a short period after passing the “Use By” date is also safe but not recommended.

3. Expires On

Expires On

The “Expires On” date is the maximum time printed on food labels, after which the food will not taste the same or may not remain edible.

You should avoid eating food after passing the expiry date, even if it does not look rotten or smells bad.

4. Sell By or Display Till

Sell By Or Display Till

“Sell By” or “Display Till” dates have nothing to do with the “Best Buy” date; they are used to notify the seller to put the food off the shelves that surpassed the “Sell By” date.

5. Freeze By or Refrigerate By

Freeze By Or Refrigerate By

While dealing with frozen items, the “Freeze By” or “Refrigerate By” dates are used instead of “Best Buy,” which refers to the time by which the food product should be frosted or refrigerated to maintain its optimal quality.

Manufacturers usually determine these dates based on the product’s shelf life and guide you on how long you can consume or preserve this food.

How To Determine Whether the Food Is Still Edible After the “Best Buy” Date?

As the USDA points out, food appropriately stored and has not yet developed any signs of spoilage (such as foul odors, flavors, or textures) can still be safe and wholesome to consume, even after the “Best Buy” date has passed.

Utilizing your senses and conducting tests can give you a better idea of the food’s quality and whether it has spoiled, so here are a few guidelines that can help you make this decision.

1. Use Your Senses

Use Your Senses

Checking for signs of spoilage, such as an off odor, mold, strange taste, or discoloration, can give you a good idea of the food’s quality.

If the food looks, smells, or tastes bad after the “Best Buy” date, it’s likely best to toss it away, as these are symptoms that the food has gone bad and could be harmful to consume.

2. Consider Storage Conditions

Consider Storage Conditions

The way food is stored can impact its freshness and quality. If the food has been kept in an airtight container at the correct temperature, you can still eat it after the “Best Buy” date.

However, if it has been stored in a warm environment or opened and exposed to air, you should discard it, as these conditions can lead to spoilage and reduce the food’s safety.

3. Know the Food Type

Know The Food Type

The type of food can also affect its shelf life; non-perishable items such as dried or canned goods can often last for several months after the “Best Buy” date. However, you should consume food like dairy or meat products more promptly after the BB date pass.


In this article, we discussed what “Best Buy” means on food labels and other related terms regarding the expiration dates of edible items.

We hope you understand that you can consume food even after its “Best Buy” date and determine its edibility using your senses and considering other factors, such as storage conditions and product type.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Best Store My Food Products?

You should refrigerate perishable food at 40°F (4°C), keep pantry items in a cool, dry place, store raw and cooked food separately, and use airtight containers to extend shelf life and preserve freshness.

Should You Even Read “Best Buy” Dates?

Yes, it would be best to read and value “Best Buy” dates as they serve as a guideline for determining food’s freshness and safety. However, the “Best Buy” date does not always mean the food spoils.

How Do You Read Manufacturing Date Codes?

Manufacturing date codes are represented using four digits.

The first two digits indicate the year, and the second two show the week within that year. So, for example, the code 9332 would mean that the product was manufactured in the 31st week of 1993.

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