In today's world, food waste is a significant problem, and the best-before date (BBD) plays a major role in contributing to this issue. However, when it comes to chocolate, the best-before date doesn't necessarily mean that it has become inedible and must be discarded. In this blog post, we will shed light on what the best-before date signifies for chocolates, how consumers can handle it, and how we at fairafric address this challenge of food waste. By the end of this article, you'll find some valuable tips and a link to our discounted products, giving you the chance to become a food rescuer yourself!
Best-before date is a primary cause of food waste in households
Food waste is a critical concern globally, with approximately one-third of all produced food ending up in the trash each year. This not only raises ethical concerns but also leads to significant environmental issues, as excessive greenhouse gases are needlessly produced. In Germany alone, a staggering 11 million tonnes of food are discarded annually. Out of this, 59% (around 78 kg per capita) originates from private households, while the rest comes from production, processing, trade, and gastronomy. The primary culprit behind this food waste is the best-before date.
When the best-before date approaches or has passed, many people tend to dispose of unopened food items without considering their actual shelf-stability. In retail and wholesale, products near their best-before date are often sorted out, and while some might be donated to food banks or initiatives, a considerable portion ends up in the trash.
As a chocolate company involved in both production and distribution, we also face the challenge of dealing with chocolates close to their best-before date or potentially surpassing it. However, before delving into what we do in such situations, let's clarify what the term "best-before date" actually means and what consumers should keep in mind.
"Best before..." does not mean "inedible from...".
The best-before date is a guarantee given by the producing company to the consumer. It indicates until when a food product will retain its desired properties, such as taste, nutritional value, or smell, provided it is stored correctly. This guarantee only applies to unopened products that have been stored correctly. For instance, if a jar of pesto has already been opened and stored for an extended period, it can spoil before the best-before date, similar to yogurt when stored improperly.
If products are stored correctly in their original packaging, they are usually still safe to consume after the best-before date, according to consumer advice centers. Often, producers set the best-before date conservatively to ensure safety, so perishable foods, including dairy products, remain edible even a few days after the best-before date. However, before consuming expired food, it is essential to use your senses to inspect it – look, smell, and taste it. If there are signs of mold or unpleasant odors, it's best to dispose of the product. Otherwise, if the product appears flawless and smells normal, a small taste test can provide further assurance.
Use-by date vs. best-before date
It's important to differentiate between the use-by date and the best-before date. The use-by date is prescribed for quickly perishable products like meat or fresh fish, indicating the end date of their shelf life. After this date, the risk of harmful bacteria developing increases, making it unsafe to consume or sell such products. Therefore, products that have passed their use-by date should neither be sold nor consumed. This highlights the importance of using up such products early to avoid unnecessary food waste.
So, now that we understand the meaning of the best-before date and how to deal with it as consumers, let's explore what happens to chocolates nearing or surpassing their best-before date and how we handle this situation at fairafric.
How long does chocolate actually last?
Contrary to what some might believe, chocolate tends to have a longer shelf life compared to many other foods. The duration depends mainly on the sugar and cocoa butter content. White and milk chocolates should ideally not be stored for more than 12 to 18 months from production, while dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can often last up to two years. If you notice a white film or stains on your chocolate, it is likely not mold; rather, it could be deposits of fat or sugar that form on the surface due to temperature changes. Rest assured, this phenomenon does not affect the taste of the chocolate.
So, an expired or approaching best-before date for chocolate (and many other products) should not immediately lead to their disposal. This brings us some relief, but unfortunately, in the food retail industry, many companies still dispose of products once the best-before date has been reached. This is because, after the best-before date, the producer is no longer liable for the condition of the product, and the responsibility shifts to the selling company. For many retailers, this is a significant legal risk, and daily checks of the best-before date would require considerable effort. Consequently, countless food items find their way from supermarket shelves to landfills every year, or they never even make it to the shelves.
Oops, the chocolate is about to expire!
At fairafric, like any other manufacturing company, we strive to maintain a balance between demand and supply and keep a precise production schedule to ensure that chocolates do not get too close to their best-before date, potentially deterring traders from purchasing them. However, given the fast-paced growth of our company in a fluctuating market, situations may arise where we find ourselves with chocolates that are nearing their best-before date.
Fortunately, several excellent solutions exist for such scenarios, and we have not had to discard a single bar due to being out of date or spoiled. Firstly, many small traders and shops still place orders for our chocolates, even when the best-before date is only a few months away, as they can still sell them successfully. Additionally, we collaborate with companies and initiatives like "Too Good to Go," "Mit Ecken und Kanten," and "Foodsharing," which specialize in products close to their best-before dates and food rescue.
And, of course, there's you! Through our online shop, you have the opportunity to purchase chocolates nearing their best-before date directly from us at discounted prices. By doing so, you help us prevent significant losses and maintain our "zero-bars-wasted" approach in the future. Our "Sale" category features our reduced products.
In conclusion, the best-before date for chocolates, as with many other food items, does not render them immediately inedible. Properly stored products are often safe to consume even after the best-before date has passed. Understanding the distinction between best-before and use-by dates is crucial to avoid unnecessary food waste and ensure safe consumption.
At fairafric, we remain committed to reducing food waste and collaborating with various partners to rescue chocolates approaching their best-before dates. However, we couldn't achieve this without the support of our customers who participate in our efforts by purchasing discounted products.
So, the next time you spot chocolates nearing their best-before date in our "Sale" category in our Online Shop, remember that you're not just getting a great deal but also becoming a food rescuer, contributing to a more sustainable future!
Join us in our mission to make a positive impact, one chocolate bar at a time!