The monthly online
magazine for all
catering professionals
Essentially Catering Magazine

Catering news - For this month's news - View magazine »

Expiry date for confusing date labels

Expiry date for confusing date labels

Clearer date labels will help shoppers save money and stop perfectly good food being thrown away, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said today as Defra published new guidance for food and drink manufacturers.

The updated guidance will help ensure the right date marks are used on food labels to make it easier for shoppers to know when food is safe to eat.

Under the guidance, food packaging should only carry either a ‘use-by’ or ‘best-before’ date. ‘Sell-by’ and ‘display-until’ labels used for stock rotation should be removed to avoid confusion for shoppers, with retailers finding different ways of stock control.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

"We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat. This simpler and safer date labelling guide will help households cut down on the £12 billion worth of good food that ends up in the bin."

Liz Redmond, Head of Hygiene and Microbiology at the FSA, said:

"There is a lot of confusion amongst customers about date marks. A number of different dates can be found on our food, so we need to make sure that everyone knows the difference between them. We always emphasise that "use by" dates are the most important, as these relate to food safety. This new guidance will give greater clarity to the food industry on which date mark should be used on their products while maintaining consumer protection."

The guidance for food producers outlines that ‘use-by’ labels should only be used where the food could be unsafe after that date. Most other foods should have a ‘best-before’ date only, to indicate when the food is no longer at its best, but is still safe to eat.

The guidance is also designed so the food industry can develop more detailed advice for their specific products that minimises confusion for consumers and food waste while keeping food safe.

Foods likely to require a ‘use-by’ date include soft cheese, ready-prepared meals and smoked fish.

Food likely to require only a ‘best-before’ date include biscuits, jams, pickles, crisps and tinned foods.

The guidance was produced in consultation with the food manufacturers, supermarkets, trade associations, consumer groups and food law enforcement bodies and Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

At least 60% of the 8.3 million tonnes of UK household food and drink waste is avoidable. That’s 5.3 million tonnes of perfectly edible food per year – the equivalent of £680 per household with children. WRAP research has identified confusion over date labelling as one of the causes of this.

Your feedback is important to us – please comment any time. Leave feedback »

Previous issues - For latest news & articles view this month's magazine »

Inside this issue

Sign up for more

Sign up today and get Essentially
Catering Magazine delivered every
month to your inbox.

You’ll also get:

  • Weekly news updates
  • Exclusive catering product offers
Sign up »
Advertisement BB Foodservice
Follow Essentially Catering Magazine on Twitter

Essentially Catering @MagazineEC 15 NOV

Well done, Jerome Calayag From Sweden Announced As The Winner Of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Regional Semi-Final, And W… https://t.co/zS8M8u7Yks

Essentially Catering @MagazineEC 15 NOV

RT @FishNChipAwards: We love a friday... not just because it's the end of the week but also because it gives us an excuse to get fish and c…

Follow Essentially Catering Magazine on Facebook

Article Archive

Christmas presence

With the festive season nearly upon us, now is the time to check that all is planned and ready both to embrace and benefit from this particularly busy time of year. Read more >

Soft Drinks

Britvic’s 2017 research into the importance of soft drinks at Christmas revealed that almost half of consumers (45%) were set to buy more soft drinks at Christmas and over a fifth (21%) planned to drink less alcohol. Read more >

View previous articles > 187
Advertisement Cooking oil offer