There is no need to retest and relabel existing imported stocks for goods manufactured, CE marked and contractually imported into the UK until 11pm on 31 December 2022. Other date or permanent information provided on food labels may confuse consumers, but again, some of this information is required by law. For example, it is required by law to provide instructions for the storage of food at the time of opening the package and in case the food requires special storage conditions, such as “use once opened within 2 days”. However, the wording of this information is not specified. Certain foodstuffs such as frozen meat, frozen meat preparations (e.g. hamburgers and sausages) and frozen unprocessed fish must bear the date of freezing, using the words `frozen on`. The expiration date, sometimes called BBE (best before), refers to quality, not safety. Food can be eaten safely after this date, but it may not be at its best. Its taste and texture may not be so good. Expiration dates appear on a variety of foods, including: Expiration dates refer to the quality of the food, taste, texture, aroma, and appearance.
If food is stored according to packaging instructions, it must be optimal up to and including the expiry date. Foods that will likely only require an expiration date include cookies, jams, pickles, chips, and canned foods. Sources:1. Defra: Guide to attaching date labels to food, September 20112. WRAP – How to apply date labels to avoid food waste (fact sheet)3. The 1996 Food Labelling Regulation highlights the wider problem of confusion of date marks. We are all familiar with the different date markers that appear on food labels, such as “consume by” and “display bis”, but there are still many who are not sure what each of them means. Distributing food after the use-by date puts people at risk and could result in enforcement action against the food bank. In the NI, EU country of origin regulations, as applied in the Northern Ireland Protocol (PIN), apply to foods placed on the NI market. Where EU law requires a Member State to indicate its country of origin, food businesses must ensure that food originating in Northern Ireland bears those indications in the form `UK(NI)` or `United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)`. Where appropriate, this information shall be followed by a description of the storage conditions which must be complied with if the product has a shelf life for the specified period; Food can contain bacteria and lead to food poisoning if stored for too long or at the wrong temperature. Therefore, it is important to understand the different types of data and advice for food packaging.
Added additional instructions on the height of the UKCA marking. For more information, see the date guide on the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) website. Our guide to determining shelf life, backed by expert advice and a practical shelf life assessment, has recently been updated and is available for purchase now. Research on packaging shows that when a use-by date is visible, the number of people who mistakenly think that the use-by date refers to food quality and that the expiry date refers to food safety increases slightly. The “expiry date” is considered the standard requirement. For high-risk foods, however, an alternative is needed: a use-by date is about safety and is applied to highly perishable foods from a microbiological point of view. If consumed after the date, there is a risk that the food is unsafe and can cause illness. Food can be eaten until the use-by date, but not after, and the indicated storage instructions should also be followed carefully. Foods that display “eat before” data are those that quickly become dangerous, such as fresh meat or ready-to-eat salads. Most food packaging has one or more of three date labels: best before, use up and display. The labels “use until” and “best before” are required by law – Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament, implemented in the United Kingdom by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. The “View by” label is added by retailers to support inventory control.
For the expiration date to be a valid guide, you must carefully follow the storage instructions. For example, if the instructions on the package state that you need to refrigerate after opening, you should store the food in the refrigerator at 5°C or lower. Learn more about properly cooling your food. Find out if you need to use UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking on the products you manufacture or handle. In most cases, you will need to affix the UKCA marking to the product itself or to the packaging. Some products are subject to UKCA labelling, but have special rules. For more information, see the sectoral guidelines. The CE and UKCA marks may be affixed to a product, provided that neither prevents the other from being clearly visible and meets the requirements of UK and EU legislation. In addition, for frozen meat, frozen meat preparations and frozen unprocessed fishery products, it is mandatory (in accordance with point 6 of Annex III) to indicate the date of freezing or the date of first freezing if the product has been frozen more than once.
For manufacturers, there is a certain balance when it comes to date marking. Conflicting needs from multiple domains can make it easier to set up a date marker. For example, health officials want less salt, sugar, and saturated fat in products to improve consumer health, but some of these ingredients can help preserve food, allow for longer life, and in some cases, inhibit microbial growth. As an important piece of labelling legislation, it is important to have a good understanding of date markers, which is why I have partnered with our experienced food law advisory team in Campden BRI to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information on this area. “We want to end the confusion surrounding food labelling and clarify once and for all when food is safe and good to eat. This simpler and safer guide to labelling data will help households cut back on the £12 billion of good food that ends up in the trash. “(d) The use-by date must be indicated on each prepackaged portion. (c) is essential for characterising a food and distinguishing it from products with which it could be confused by reason of its name or appearance. Depending on the product, you will see one of two dates on most packaged foods: “expiration date” or “expiration date” refers to the quality of the food. Foods with this type of indication are safe to eat after the specified date, but may not be at their best.