MORE and more people are ignoring best before dates in the cost of living crisis to try and save cash.
But experts have warned many could be pushing the boundaries too far and risk making themselves sick.
One in three of us admit to eating food that's out of date according to the Food Standards Authority (FSA) – and often there's nothing wrong with that.
You could save as much as £300 a year by not throwing out perfectly good to eat food.
But anyone looking to save some cash should check carefully first that they understand what's safe and what's not.
Generally if an item looks, tastes and smells ok, you can probably use it past the best before date, according to food experts at food waste app Too Good to Go.
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Eggs, milk and cheese are common items that last longer than you think, as long as you follow the three step test.
Frozen food, dried pasta and bread are also likely to remain edible after the best before date has passed.
The FSA also found that nearly one in five people are turning their fridge or freezer off at least once a month to save cash on energy bills.
But the organisation which is responsible for food safety standards has warned that you could become sick from doing this.
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Emily Miles, boss of the FSA, said: "It’s not a good idea to turn off the fridge or eat food past its use-by date as these things can lead to a higher risk of you becoming ill with food poisoning.
Best before and use-by date: what's the difference?
The best before date is related to quality and there is no harm in eating items that have gone past "best" if they have been stored correctly, like at the right fridge temperature.
This is different from the use-by date, which is very important in the safety of food.
You can eat food right up to the use-by date but not after, the Foods Standards Agency says.
Emily said: "Your fridge is a useful appliance that not only keeps your food safe, but can help cut down what you end up throwing out.
"Keeping your fridge cold enough, 5°C or below, will prevent bacteria from multiplying on your food and make it last as long as it can.
"You should also keep food with a 'use by date' in the fridge and think about freezing it on or before the day of the date if you’re not going to use it."
Even if it looks, smells and tastes ok, food after its use-by date can still contain unseen bacteria that can make you ill.
Sue Davies, head of food policy at consumer group Which? said: “People are responding to the soaring cost of living in a range of ways, including in the most desperate cases missing meals or eating out-of-date food.
“Food past its use-by date could be unsafe to eat. There is more flexibility with best-before dates and consumers will find items nearing this date are often heavily discounted."
Foods with use-by dates include meat products and ready to eat salads.
But anything with a use-by date should be followed, as it could make you sick if you ignore it.
Which products can I eat past the best before date?
With food prices rising, household finances are under pressure for millions of Brits.
Avoiding throwing out food that's still good could help you save some much-needed cash.
Here's what you can eat after the best before date has passed, as long as you've kept it in the right conditions and it looks, smells and tastes ok.
Milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, after potatoes and bread, with around 490million pints chucked away annually, according to food waste charity Wrap.
It's easy to tell if milk has gone off as it can go lumpy, smell funky, or taste sour.
If you store your bread in the fridge you can use it for up to two weeks past the best before date.
Bread that has gone a little hard will still be great for toast, Too Good To Go says.
Bread sold in long-life packaging like pittas can last for considerably longer too – potentially months.
Around 720 million eggs are thrown out every year.
Keep them in the fridge and this could increase usability by as much as three weeks after the best before date.
An easy test to see if an egg is good to eat is putting it in a bowl of water – if it sinks it's fine to eat, it it floats then it's not.
Hard cheeses like cheddar are perfectly good to eat after the best before date.
You can cut any surface mould off of hard cheeses and eat the rest safely if it's free from mould.
But this is not recommended for soft dairy products like goats cheese.
According to Too Good To Go, spores from mould often pass through soft cheese quite quickly.
While the texture and taste of yoghurt may change as time goes on, the acidic nature of the product means bad bacteria are kept at bay almost indefinitely.
This is particularly true if the yoghurt is unopened, and has been stored correctly.
It means as long as it passes the look, smell and taste test you can eat it several weeks after the best before date.
We've all had cans of food lurking for too long in our cupboards at some point and the good news is that they're safe to eat years after the best before date.
That's because of the extremely high heat process products go through when being canned that kills bacteria and sterilises the contents.
When you leave food in the freezer the quality deteriorates over time, but it's still safe to use.
It's generally recommended to eat most freezer foods within three to six months if you want them at their best.
Dried pasta can last up to three years after the best before date.
You just need to make sure that it's been stored in an air-tight container for that time.
White rice can last for years too, if kept in an airtight container.
It can become stale as the starch naturally crystallises, but it's safe to eat.
But you want to look out for rice weevils, which can appear in flour too.
If you spot these, don't eat it – throw it away.
This only applies to white rice though, not brown, as it is refined and the preservatives keep it good for longer.
Unopened biscuits can be eaten weeks after the best before date and up to six months, according to Wrap.
Honey can last for a very long time, according to To Good To Go, even when it crystallises.
It's safe to eat and there's a simple trick to get the consistency back – just place the jar or bottle into a bowl of boiling water.
This cooking essential will last years after the best before date if it's kept sealed.
That's because it contains a lot of salt, which acts as a preservative.
Vinegar is used as a preservative, to make other foods last longer like pickles and eggs.
So the condiment will last well past its best before date.
Sugar can last indefinitely, the food waste organisation says, just keep it in an airtight container.
Bicarbonate of soda
If you've been inspired by Bake Off over the years, but didn't take it up as a full time hobby, you can still dig out and use an old tub of bicarb.
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It's safe to use years after the best before, though be warned that it can lose some of its power as a raising agent.
It's also still good to use as a cleaning agent around the house.
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