The ‘best-before’ date on a products packaging refers to food quality (taste, smell and appearance) as opposed to the actual safety of the product. A best-before date is usually declared on food products such as canned, dried and frozen foods.
A ‘use-by’ date is used on food products which, from a microbiological point of view, are highly perishable and are therefore likely after a short period, to constitute a danger to health. This applies to most chilled foods e.g. yogurt, milk, meat. Where a use-by date is declared on the label, this should not be ignored. Always adhere to the use-by date and discard any food which has exceeded this date.
Who determines the shelf-life of a food product? Manufacturers are responsible for determining an accurate and consistent shelf-life, as they are more familiar with the nature of, and ingredients used, in a final food. It is not up to the retailer to establish a best-before or use-by date of any food product.
Directive 2000/13/EC as amended requires a date of minimum durability to be declared (either a use-by or best-before date). This is EU legislation that applies to all Member States and all foods marketed within the EU must comply with these rules.
Our team at Fitz Scientific offer comprehensive shelf life testing for all stages of your products lifespan. We can also provide a tailored consultation designed to answer you specific questions regarding product shelf life.
Parameters include: Listeria, Salmonella, TVC, E coli and many others. For full details of UKAS accredited parameters view our scope of accreditation.
For details on our comprehensive food testing and microbiological testing services contact us today on 041 9845440.