There are many foods which are termed “shelf stable”. These foods can last for years and “best before” labelling is quite irrelevant to such products as it has nothing to do with food safety, but rather food quality. Hence, perfectly safe food is often discarded because the perception is created that the food is no longer safe for human consumption, which is not the case.
This impacts negatively on food security, which is so important in South Africa and contributes to food waste, which is a globally increasing problem.
Dr Lucia conducted an interview for KykNet (an Afrikaans TV channel in South Africa) on this topic, in which she discusses this issue and clarifies a number of concepts.
In the media
#ConsumerWatch: Confusion around best-before dates causing unnecessary waste
24 March 2019, Independent Online
Renowned food safety expert Dr Lucia Anelich said: “Shelf-stable foods, such as canned soup and flour, don’t normally need the fridge. They can stand at room temperature and not spoil. If the best-before date has been exceeded it tells you it might not be as before, but the quality doesn’t dip for a while. Eventually, nuts will go rancid, biscuits become soggy, coffee won’t taste as fresh. But it’s definitely not a safety issue.”
Chocolates sold to public after best-before date
12 November 2018, City Press
Food safety expert Dr Lucia Anelich said best-before dates were an indication of quality, not safety. “If one exceeds the best-before date for a chocolate bar, for example, it may mean that the quality of the chocolate and ingredients, for example nuts, may deteriorate.
‘Fake’ food likely a hoax – and here’s which ‘expired’ items you can safely eat
31 August 2018, Times Live
“These foods can last for years and ‘best before’ labelling is quite irrelevant to such products‚ as it has nothing to do with food safety but rather food quality‚” says Dr Lucia Anelich‚ food safety expert and president of the SA Association of Food Science and Technology.