Myths regarding Expiry Date:
As per FSSAI, we're obligated to mention the Shelf life of the product in form of a best-before date or expiry date on every edible product we supply to you. Shelf life depends on multiple factors like the quality and freshness of the product, its moisture content, storage, transportation, packaging (most critical aspect) and handling at the customer's end. At Urban Platter, most of our products are preservative-free and we advocate clean-label eating. Hence, both us and our customers need to be well informed about best practices to enjoy the most out of our products!
Let's begin by an example: It is estimated that the average life expectancy of a person living in India is ~70 years
. However, it does not mean that every person in India will live till 70 or cannot surpass this estimated benchmark of 70. With a healthy lifestyle, better quality nutrition and exercise routines it is very much possible to live longer and healthier.
Similarly, every packaged food product comes with an estimated expiry date. It does not necessarily mean that the product becomes unhealthy for consumption after the expiry date. Stored under proper conditions and depending on the quality of the ingredients, the product may last beyond its estimated expiry date. Dry ingredients like Salts, selected Spices and even a few tree nuts like Almonds often last much beyond their expiry dates.
Indian kitchens have had the heritage to store and use traditional Spices & Masalas for years in their pantry and also invent various techniques like using castor oil with selected grains to prolong the shelf life of ingredients.
Ayurveda talks about eating freshly cooked food for optimising the nutritional benefits. However, it never mentioned anything about food's shelf life which is the root cause of ignorance and increasing disrespect for food among many amateurs who do not fully understand the profound system. For a matter of fact, Indian Diet has consisted of Rotis & Dals for centuries and the ingredients used to make them are stored around the year. Storage plays a key role in determining the shelf life of the products. It is important to fully understand the Ayurvedic perspective and wisdom before applying it. Disrespect for food is an ignorance which Ayurveda also attempts to alleviate.
Many customers expect products they are buying to be fresh and also delivered to them within 24-72 hours. Although this sounds highly rational, it is far from the reality. Here are some common facts which would help you in understanding the way packaged products are made available in the market:
- In order for the product to be delivered to the customer within 1-3 days, the product must be almost ready to ship as soon as the customer places an order. It would be illogical to produce, manufacture and ship the product after the order is placed.
- No matter what commercial product a customer is purchasing, it would have to be produced, procured, packed and distributed across the nearest city or hub for faster deliveries.
- Production of ingredients itself takes months (sometimes years) before it can undergo manufacturing, packaging and distribution.
- Manufacturing, Packing and Distribution require a considerable amount of time themselves. If the products are imported, then this timelines are prolonged even further. Did you know? India is one of the largest consumers of Dry Fruits and a whole lot of them are imported. Imports take a minimum of 2-3 months via Sea.
- Fulfilment of order is the last milestone in this whole complex network. Having expectations for fresher goods is only aspirational and never a realistically possible event.
Many people put efforts into sustaining this network of operations which starts from production, manufacturing, packing, distribution to warehousing so that the final customer can enjoy the luxury of sourcing the product at the click of a button. Kindly be mindful of these invisible background processes the next time you buy any product.
Here are 5 tips to get the best possible shelf life and experiences which you can put to everyday use:
- Once the product is received, inspect it thoroughly well. Sensory aspects like how the product looks, its Aroma and its Taste should be a healthy indicator of its quality.
- Always Store the product as per mentioned norms, ideally, in a Cool and Dry Place devoid of Sunlight. In a hot and humid country like ours, food products are spoilt at the slightest introduction to moisture. Bright Light or Sunlight also leads to discolouration and sometimes heats the product, leading to a poor experience.
- Handle with a Clean and Dry Spoon / Hands. A soiled or moist spoon often carries moisture and other contaminants, further compromising the environment of the packaging of the product, thereby impacting its shelf life. Make it a practice to clean the spoon every time you use it.
- Keep the lid Airtight or transfer it to an Airtight container. As mentioned earlier, Humidity and Air need to be of good quality. For that, choose a pre-cleaned, odour-free glass or PET container with an air-tight lid and immediately transfer it into the container immediately. This is ideal for spices, seasonings or baking ingredients.
- Refrigerate when necessary. With most liquid products, sauces, condiments or even nuts, you must refrigerate them once opened (and keep them airtight) for the best quality experiences and shelf life. For extremely sensitive products like Almond milk and Oat milk, please follow the instructions on the pack and ideally consume them in 2-3 days once opened.
Please make an educated decision when buying food products. Bon Apetit.