The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives — including how we shop for groceries.

Some people may have overbought certain items, or have foods nearing their best-before dates and are unsure if they’re safe to consume.

Others may be pulling out dusty pantry items from the back of their cupboards for baking projects.

“Many people’s understanding of both the best-before and expiration date is that food is spoiled or unsafe to eat once that date has passed,” said Emily Tam, a Toronto-based registered dietitian.

“Many foods, provided that they have been stored properly, retain their quality and safety way beyond their labelled best-before date.”

According to the Government of Canada, “best-before” dates tell you when the “durable life period of a prepackaged food ends.” Durable life means the amount of time that an unopened food product will retain its freshness, taste and nutritional value if stored properly.

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Expiry dates, on the other hand, are different.

The government says expiration dates are required only on certain foods that have “strict compositional and nutritional specifications which might not be met after the expiration date.”

2:17How to increase your food security during the COVID-19 pandemic