Japanese Word:the Difference between Shoumikigen(best-before) and Shouhikigen(use by)

If you buy Japanese food, you should pay attention to the “Shoumikigen(best-before)” date or the “Shouhikigen(use by)” date marked on various Japanese foods.

Let this article tell you the difference between the “Shoumikigen(best-before)” date or the “Shouhikigen(use by)” date in a minute.

“best-before” and “use by”

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan :



賞味期限(Shoumikigen, best-before)

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消費期限(Shouhikigen,use by)

To translate, it means:

賞味期限(Shoumikigen, best-before): The date by which the quality will not change and will still be delicious when stored according to the prescribed preservation method without opening the bag or container.
消費期限(Shouhikigen, use by): Safe to eat until this date if stored according to the prescribed preservation method without opening the bag or container.

Can I eat food that has passed its best-before date?

According to the definition above, the “best-before date” is the threshold date for a food to be delicious and the “use-by date” is the threshold date for a food to be “safe to eat”.

After the best-before date, the food can still be eaten, but it will become unpalatable. For example, the vegetables and noodles of the cup noodles are damp and become soft and sticky, the sausage is not so crisp and tasty, and begins to feel like eating starch, the Coke’s bubbles may have run out, and the potato chips are not crisp… But no matter how unpalatable it is, it is still edible.

After all, food is perishable. Although you can still eat it after the best-before date, it is better to eat it as soon as possible. So how long after the best-before date is a product generally considered edible?

There is a 1.5 times rule here. Generally speaking, it is safer to eat them within 1.5 times the best-before date. For example, if a product has a total of one month (30 days) from the date of manufacture to the best-before date, then 30×1.5=45, it would be safe to eat it within one and a half months. However, although food that has passed its best-before date can still be eaten, we should try to eat it when it is most delicious. If you can, you should finish it within the best-before period.

Once the use-by date has passed, the food must be thrown away and is completely inedible. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has conducted chemical and biological studies on many foods to determine the use-by date, after which some foods will spoil and produce toxic and harmful substances, and some foods will become moldy and hairy and give off an unpleasant odor… Once you find that the food you have purchased has exceeded the use-by date, please be sure to throw it away. Don’t take a chance and eat it.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: the above-mentioned dates for both taste and consumption refer to not opening the bag or container and storing it according to the prescribed storage method. As long as the bag is opened, the expiration date is null and void, and the food should be consumed as soon as possible.

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