Best before versus use by dates

The Food Bank sometimes hands out products after their expiration date. Packed food products always have an expiration date:

– THT (tenminste houdbaar tot) – best before:
this is on most products and indicates that the quality of this product is guaranteed by the producer until the date stated on the label.THT is used for dry goods and most refrigerated products that have to be stored at a given temperature.

– TGT (te gebruiken tot) use by:
this is on products that have a very short shelf life, such as fresh meat, fresh chicken, fresh fish and fresh dairy products. These products must be stored at 0 – 4 degrees Celsius. It is recommended not to eat these products after this date because they may be spoiled.

Is it allowed to supply products after the stated date?
– In case of a TGT-date (use by) it has already been stated that these are vulnerable products; therefore these may not be supplied after their TGT-date, because food safety can not be guaranteed.
– In case of a THT-date (best before) it’s different:
• Products that must be stored at 7 degrees Celsius may not be supplied when the date has expired.
• Products that can be stored non-refrigerated (dry groceries) may under strict conditions be supplied after the THT-date has expired.
This is allowed because while the quality of the product may slowly deteriorate (depending on the kind of product), there is no health threat.

How long after the THT-date has expired is it allowed to supply a product?
– This depends on the kind of product: canned peas can be kept for a very long time, cookies for a much shorter period.
– The NVWA (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Waren Autoriteit), the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority has issued an overview with expiration tables for different kinds of products which state how long after the THT-date it is allowed to supply each product (Info sheet 76). During this period of time no health threat is expected. This overview has been submitted to all Food Banks and distribution points to be considered by their clients.

Extension shelf live of refrigerated THT and TGT products
The shelf life of refrigerated products can be prolonged by deep-freezing the product at –18 degrees Celsius (for example at clients home).
Products with a TGT date may also be frozen to extend their shelf live. If this is the case, Food Banks will label these products with additional conditions.
The Food Bank sometimes hands out products after their expiration date, but only under strict rules and regulations