What’s the difference between the ‘best before’ and the 'use-by' dates? How should we read the label on a soy sauce bottle?
An expiration date tells a customer the last day a product is safe to consume.
A use-by date tell a customer that fresh foods can be eaten up until that date but not after. These dates are for everyone's safety.
On the other hand, a best before date is about food quality. It means the food may no longer be in the best condition for consumption from that date. Past that date, the food may lose its freshness, flavor or nutrients. It does not necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.
Please note that above terms all indicate the condition of products which are unopened and kept at an appropriate temperature.
How about the dates on the soy sauce label?We can use the best before date on the labels of soy sauce because it has long term stability and it would not become bad for anyone to eat on that date. Therefore, we can use and eat soy sauce even if it is after the best before date.
However, to taste the best quality soy sauce and also enjoy its best aroma and flavor we recommend using it before the best before date. Once it is past that date date, soy sauce might be darker than its original color and have less flavor. In such cases, we recommend that you to use soy sauce to cook dish such that are simmered or boiled as a BBQ sauce (please refer to our recipes).
How about after opening?
As mentioned, all date on the label are for unopened products. After opening the bottle of soy sauce, it would be best to use it within one month while keeping it in a refrigerator.
The following are three causes for the reduction of reduce soy sauce quality:
1. high temperature
2. oxygen in the air
3. mold and other microorganisms
Therefore, keeping the lid on the bottle and putting it in the refrigerator can stop the degradation of its quality. Please note that it is also not good to pour soy sauce directly from he bottle over the top of a cooking pan that is steaming. Steam may enter the bottle and cause condensation on the mouth and top of the bottle, which can lead to mold taking root. To avoid this, just poor the soy sauce into a measuring cup first and then poor it into the cooking pan.