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.


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.


Closed yogurt, best before 26.6.2018 / Picture made 7.6.2018 by E.Suter

Already 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.


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  []


On-topic posts on

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

7 thoughts on “Best before, not deadly from

  1. Dear Nadja and Melanie,
    When I looked trought the articles from this website, your article catched my interest.
    It was an interesting article and I enjoyed it to read.
    With your title “best before, not deadly from” did you approach me because this sentence is what I said to a friend of mine.
    I can still remember that she and her family threw away joghurts and other food which was one day over the best before date. I told them so many times, that you can still eat this when it does not smell weird or look weird. But they kept throwing the things away.
    Anyways, in your article I would like have seen some numbers. For example how many kilograms or tons of food is going to the organization “Tischlein deck dich” or how much is thrown away.
    For example on I found out that 2,8 tons of food is thrown away per year. Only in Switzerland!
    On the whole I liked your article!
    Best regards,

  2. Dear Writers,
    I really enjoyed reading your article «Best before, not deadly from». Your researchs were very fascinating. I enjoyed to read something about how the big store deal with their food which is over the best-bevor date. For me it’s very important that we not only look on the best-before date, but also make a test and look how it smells or tastes. Because most of the time the food isn’t bad although the best-before date is over.
    Somethings other that hold my interest is a rough number of how many people throw their food into the rubbish when the best-before date is over. And also how many tonnes or kilogramm of food the big stores throw into the rubbish. This would be interesting to have a look over how big the raw guess of foodwaste is in connection with this article.

  3. Dear Nadja and Melanie
    It was interesting to read in your article, that Emmi takes responsibility and thinks carefully about how much to produce.
    But also other manufacturers are concerned about what happens to the products that have expired. It is good that certain products can also be fed to animals.
    We would be interested to know, if there is also a grocery list showing how long the different products last.
    Such a list might help to decide for yourself, whether you can still eat certain products after the expiration date without worrying about your health.
    To sum up, we think, that you wrote a very good article. We are sure, that your article is very helpful and interesting for lots of people. Thank you very much for writing! We wish you all the best!
    Kind regards
    Matthias, Tamara and Jeannine

  4. Hi
    I really like your topic, because this is something i personally had to explain to all my friends all over and over. And i still meet people who are not well informed. I mean how can we put a date on salt as example? Material that exists for millions of years should expire in some months now? ^^

    we need more post like yours – thank you and continue

  5. Hi there
    Thank you so much for writing this article. It was a pleasant to read it.
    The subject of our project is extremly impressive and important. However a lot of people just throw the products, which are expired, away. The most interesting fact you wrote is that purified yoghurt are the best before dates always 30 days.
    I think it is so sad, that so much food is wasted because people can’t calculate how much they eat. I know it’s difficult but I think more people should give more thoughts about this.
    Thank you for sharing and I wish you the best.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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