Best before, not deadly from

Best before, not deadly from

First thoughts

For our Projectino Befter, we would like to know more about, what happened with the food that has expired, who decides the best before date.

Until now we know:

  • You can eat it safely after their best-before dates
  • Some food will be given to non-profit organizations (like “Tischlein deck dich”)
  • Some Companies just throw it away

Here is our finished Befter project. Have fun to read…!

Who decides on the best before date on products and what happens if some products expire in the shop? 

In the beginning we knew that we can eat food safely after their best-before date, some food which is expired will be given to non-profit organizations and some companies just throw it away.

We were very interested in this topic and started to write to some bigger and smaller companies and we also could talk to an organic farmer, who is selling homemade products and some employees from dairy shops.


Best before, not deadly from

Picture Source: Flickr, Toca Boca

Producers like Emmi take care to buy the raw materials in the right quantity and only produce as much as can be sold. Any surpluses and by-products from processing are exported by Emmi to neighbouring countries (Nachbarländer) on the one hand and passed on for animal feed on the other.

Some things also end up in the waste water, due to the cleaning of the machines. The minimum shelf life (Haltbarkeit) determines product development and quality management on the basis of legal principles (gesetzliche Grundlagen).

You as the manufacturer (Hersteller) must be able to guarantee that the quality is 100% when stored correctly. For yoghurt purified, the best before dates are always 30 days.

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The product is delivered from the wholesaler (Grosshändler) to the retailers. In larger shops such as Migros and Coop, the expired food is recycled in different ways. Unfortunately, we have not yet received an answer to our question from either of them.

According to the website, Coop is passing on expired food to the “Tischlein-deck-dich” project in order to help fewer beneficiaries in Switzerland. Mirgros also passes on her food, among other things to the “Schweizer Tafel” or “Partage“.

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Among other things, we were able to visit small shops in person and ask questions on site. The Rüegg Dairy answered the questions asked with full commitment and very friendly.

Expired dairy products are passed on to a local farmer. He cooks up the products and feeds them to the pigs. However, most products can be sold before the expiration date.

The plastic cups can be returned by customers which the Molki put into the PET collection, as it is no longer 100% cleanable.

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We also had the opportunity to talk to a farmer who runs a farm shop with his own products. You can determine the expiration dates yourself, but the shelf life must be secured up to this date.

Expired products such as the homemade noodles are consumed by the farmer family themselves or fed to the domestic pigs. Since they can easily calculate the quantity to be produced, there are hardly any expired goods.

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Of course, it can also happen that something goes bad before the expiry date. There can be various reasons for this, on the one hand incorrect storage or if air gets into the packaging during filling.


Best before, not deadly fromClosed yogurt, best before 26.6.2018 / Picture made 7.6.2018 by E.Suter

Best before, not deadly fromAlready moldy before expired / Picture made 7.6.2018 by E.Suter

What surprised us was the response from the Nestlé Group to our request on disposal and durability. They could not or maybe would not help us.

Best before, not deadly from


We would have thought that more food ends up in the waste and the companies are more unconscious about it. Especially Emmi surprised us positively, as they plan to further reduce the waste of food and packaging in the next few years.

For ourselves as well, we will deal with this topic more responsibly in the future.

We hope you enjoyed reading it.

Best wishes

Nadja, Melanie

Also interested? Here you find some further information and our sources:

[1] Food waste: Die Krux mit dem Haltbarkeitsdatum []
[2] Haltbar bis heisst nicht giftig ab []
[3] Vermeidung von Food waste: Lebensmittel sind wertvoll  []
[4] Emmi: Wir vermeiden Verschwendung konsequent  []

☵ Some words about the contributions »

2 thoughts on “Best before, not deadly from

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for this interesting report. It is nice to know that there are companies which give their products to non-profit organizations even after their best-before date. As you mentioned, we all know that there is no problem to consum such products. I already knew about the organization “Tischlein-deck-dich” and I am a fan of it. People with a low income are still able to afford a big variety of groceries for a small price. In my opinion, these organizations should get support from our government. Also the government should encourage other companies, like Nestlé, to donate their products aswell. Maybe in the near futur there will be a prescription that companies have to donate their food so they are not allowed to just throw good qualitiy products away. I think they already have this kind of system in France.

  2. Dear Writers,
    I enjoyed reading your Post. I think the content is very interesting and it’s well written. I especially like that you got in contacts with big companies but also local shops. I was also positively surprised about most of their answers.
    What also would interested me is a research on how long we can consume food after the best-befor date and maybe a comparison of different types of food. In my opinion this would complet the post.
    Overall, i think you did a good job.

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