The Regulations require food to have an 'appropriate durability
indication'. Two methods are used:
- For food which, from a microbiological point of view, is
highly perishable and in consequence likely after a short period of time to
constitute an immediate danger to human health, a 'use by' date.
- For other foods, the minimum durability (the 'best before'
Manner of Marking:
- Minimum durability: To be indicated by 'best before'
followed by the date up to and including which the food can reasonably be
expected to retain its specific properties if properly stored, and details
of the storage conditions necessary for the properties to be retained until
that date. The date should be in the form day/month/year. Alternatively the
following are possible:
Either the date only or the date and storage conditions may
be elsewhere on the packet if reference is made to the position after the
'best before' statement.
- only the day/month if the date is within 3 months, or
- 'best before end' and month/year if the date is from
3 to 18 months, or
- 'best before end' and month/year or year if date is
more than 18 months.
- 'Use by' date: To be indicated by 'use by' followed
by the date (expressed in day/month or day/month/year) up to and including
which the food, if properly stored, is recommended for use. Details of any
necessary storage conditions must also be given. Either the date only or the
date and storage conditions may be elsewhere on the packet if reference is
made to the position after the 'use by' statement.
- Best Before (Nuts and Raisins)
Example - Best Before (Butter)
Example - Best Before
Example - Use By
Note: More detailed guidance on the 'use by' dates can
be found in the document: 'What Foods Should Carry A "Use By" Date ? Guidance
Notes' (see the Links page)
The following foods are exempted from stating an appropriate
- fresh fruit and vegetables (including potatoes but not including
sprouting seeds, legume sprouts and similar products) which have not been
peeled or cut into pieces,
- wine, liqueur wine, sparkling wine, aromatised wine and
any similar drink obtained from fruit other than grapes and certain other
drinks made from grapes or grape musts (see Regulations),
- any drink with an alcoholic strength by volume of 10% or
- any soft drink, fruit juice or fruit nectar or alcoholic
drink sold in a container of more than 5l (intended for catering),
- flour confectionery and bread normally consumed within 24
hours of preparation,
- cooking and table salt,
- solid sugar and products consisting almost solely of flavoured
or coloured sugars,
- chewing gums and similar products,
- edible ices in individual portions.
Special storage conditions or conditions of use
As indicated under 'General requirements' (on page A-1), foods
are required to be labelled with 'any special storage conditions or conditions
The storage conditions which are required to be given with
the date mark relate specifically to ensuring that the consumer knows how to
store the food if it is to last as long as the date indicates whilst it remains
unopened. Special storage conditions or conditions of use should be given:
- if the consumer needs to observe certain practices once
the packaging of a food has been opened (e.g. once opened keep refrigerated
and consume within 3 days);
- if various options are available (e.g. suitable for home
- if foods are not appropriate or suitable for use in certain
circumstances (e.g. not suitable for frying or shake well before use).