The cheese I bought some days ago has expired. Do I have to throw it away? And the salami?

The food expiry subject is very complicated.

We are often in front of opened packs or jars and we don’t know what to do…Can we still eat the food inside or is it better to throw them away for preserving our health?

To deal with this issue we primarily have to distinguish the best before date (BBD) from the expiry date (EXP).

What is the ‘best before date’?

It applies to the not quickly perishable products and it’s indicated on the label with the wording “to be consumed before” followed by the date before it is recommended to consume the product in the right storage conditions. In the case in which you decide to consume it after this date, there won’t be any risks, but rather the possibility of consuming the food with different organoleptic characteristics from the original, for example with a different or less intense taste.

What ‘expiry date’ means?

The expiry date, unlike BBD, applies to the quickly perishable products and it indicates the maximum term by which the product must be consumed. The wording “to be consumed before” is followed by month and day for products storable for less than 3 months, month and year for those storable from 3 to 18 months, and only the year for those storable for at least 18 months. In that case, consuming the product after the date indicated on the label causes a microbiological risk.

When you use the expiry date and when you use the best before date?

If the EXP isn’t imposed by the law with the exception of some particular products like eggs and fresh milk, the BBD isn’t mandatory for these foods: fresh and whole fruit and vegetables, germinal seeds and similar products, wines and grapes beverages, beverages with more than 10% of alcohol, bakery and pastry products that by their nature have to be consumed within 24 hours, vinegars, salt, solid sugars, confectionery products, chewing gums and similar products.

How do I deal with cheeses?

If we’re talking about fresh cheeses, we need to consume them within the EXP whereas we can eat the products after the date indicated on the label if we are talking about aged cheeses. In that case, it is often necessary to remove the parts covered in mold, especially if they developed inside.

And with cold cuts?

Here the question is more difficult. For pre-packaged products it is obligatory to indicate the BBD; on the contrary, it isn’t mandatory for cold cuts bought in bulk (salami and similar). There are few producers that, to be clearer, prefer to indicate the BBD, the batch number or the production date.

Even in that case, as in aged cheeses, the rule of common sense prevails. Consuming an expired salami after few days doesn’t generally represent a problem, whereas it’s different if the days are many.

So when we talk about expiration dates there are a lot of misconceptions but if you follow our guide above we are sure you won’t have a problem anymore, especially with our products.