What is the difference between a USE BEFORE date and a BEST BEFORE date?!
There actually is a BIG difference!
A USE BEFORE date is quite a critical one for if you consume something past a USE BEFORE date, you take a big risk as the product may make you sick, poison you or even kill you!
A BEST BEFORE date doesn't really mean anything! The best way to look upon a BEST BEFORE date is as a "FRESHEST BEFORE" date.
A USE BEFORE date doesn't really apply to herbal products but mainly for fresh products containing milk, cheese, eggs or produce that can go "off" or harm/posion you if not refrigerated before or after opening the container.
However, you will notice on some products, especially herbs, that there is only a BEST BEFORE date. This is regulated by the Health Department and must be put on any consumable item.
The BEST BEFORE date is at the discretion of the producer, packer or manufacturer.
The BEST BEFORE date doesn't really mean anything when it comes to dried herbs because herbs are no longer, in that sense, fresh anyway.
Thus a BEST BEFORE date actually means freshest before date but of course, that doesn't really mean anything because the herbs have already been picked and dried either by artificial means or sun dried.
What this means is that you really don't have to worry at all if herbs go past their BEST BEFORE date as they still contain their active ingredients.
As proof of this, one day I found a pack of Guarana powder that was in my storage shed for over 8 years. It looked fine, so I put a teaspoon in hot water and I felt the strong burst of energy from the Guarana that lasted for 4 hours. So, no matter what people tell you, herbs do keep their potency for many years past their BEST BEFORE date!
In actual fact, the Health Department say that a retailer can sell any products with a BEST BEFORE date right up until that product starts to look mouldy or starts to decompose!
This reminds me of some explorers finding some San Pedro cactus in a cave that was over 2000 years old and it still retained its potency. To find that out, they must have had a cactus journey!
To sum up, do not throw out your herb if it has gone past it's BEST BEFORE date. It is still good to use until it starts to look like it's decomposing and that could take many,many years!