It's enough to make you sick

A third of Britons could be risking food poisoning by eating food past its use-by date.

A survey by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that 34% of consumers do not follow the dates on packs of food, and continue to eat or cook with out-of-date food.

Most pre-packed foods carry either a use-by or best-before date coupled with recommended storage advice. Use-by dates are placed on highly perishable foods, such as meats or ready-meals. These dates should not be ignored.

Best before dates are for foods with a longer shelf life, such as breakfast cereals, biscuits, frozen, dried and canned foods. The date tells consumers how long the food will be at its best when properly stored. The survey revealed that many consumers confuse use-by with best-before, and 27% simply add on a couple of days to the use-by date.

When asked why they ate food past its date, 38% of Britons said that the food did not smell or look off. However, bacteria are invisible and can be present in foods without obvious signs like a bad smell, experts said.

Julian Hunt, FDF director of communications said: "It's clear from our survey that there's some confusion over what the two types of date marks mean.

"We're looking to help shoppers better understand the information on the foods they buy and raise awareness of the importance of following use-by dates, which are put on foods that go off quickly. While you might not get food poisoning from eating food past its use-by date, why take the risk for you and your family?

"We want consumers to continue to enjoy their foods and avoid an upset tummy."

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