Shelf Life vs Expiration Date, What’s the Difference?


Whenever we buy a product at the supermarket, there is something we must check. That’s the expiration date. ‘Expiration date’ is the period from the date of manufacture to the period during which distribution and sale are permitted to consumers and is applied to most foods.

On the other hand, some foods have an expiration date marked instead of an expiration date. The ‘consumer period’ refers to the period during which a consumer can eat or consume a product.

The expiration date is indicated as a period 60-70% ahead of the change in food quality, and the expiration date is set at a level 80-90% earlier.

The shelf life of unopened milk is 10 days, but if you change the expiration date to the expiration date, it can be extended by 45 days. This means that the shelf life is much longer than the expiration date. Based on this, environmental groups argue that if the expiration date is marked as the expiration date, it will be possible to drastically reduce the amount of wasted food.

In fact, a bill is being proposed to the National Assembly to change the expiry date displayed on foodstuffs to the expiration date, and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is also in the process of revising related regulations.

Difference between manufacturing date and quality retention period

The ‘manufacturing date’ is the date indicated on foods such as sugar, salt, soju, and frozen confectionery, with a low risk of spoilage even after long-term storage.

The date of manufacture is also marked on perishable foods such as lunch boxes, gimbap, hamburgers, and sandwiches. ‘Quality retention period’ refers to the period during which the inherent quality of a product is maintained. do. In the case of food subject to quality maintenance labeling, even if stored for a long time, there is no risk of rapid quality change or deterioration, so it is possible to consume over the period.

Can I still eat it after the date has passed?

The shelf life and expiration date are determined by the ‘sensory test‘ method in which the manufacturer uses the five senses to inspect the appearance, taste, color, and smell of the product by a professional agent in consideration of the product’s characteristics and distribution process; It is determined through chemical component tests such as acidity and preservatives, and physical tests such as hardness, specific gravity, and turbidity.

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The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety says, “It is common to set the shelf life shorter than the time of quality change of food measured through scientific experiments. However, he said that food that has exceeded the expiry date should not be consumed and that it is recommended to consume all date marks as much as possible in compliance with the expiry date.

Above all, in order to keep food safe, it is necessary to strictly follow the storage standards such as refrigeration, freezing, and room temperature set according to the characteristics of the product.

In the case of refrigerated products, if the temperature limit of 0~10℃ is exceeded or the product is stored in an opened state, even if the expiration date or expiration date is marked, we cannot guarantee that the product will be safe until that period, so pay special attention to the storage condition.


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