Dates on food products
Date marks give a guide to how long food can be kept before it begins to deteriorate or may become unsafe to eat. The two types of date marking are use by dates and best before dates. The food supplier is responsible for placing a use by or best before date on food.
Used by date:
Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons should be marked with a use by date. Foods should not be eaten after the use by date and can’t legally be sold after this date because they may pose a health or safety risk.
Best before date:
Most foods have a best before date
- You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date as they should be safe but they may have lost some quality.
- Foods that have a best before date can legally be sold after that date provided the food is fit for human consumption.
Some food products do not require a date marking
Foods that have a shelf life of two years or longer, e.g. some canned foods, do not need to be labelled with a best before date. This is because it is difficult to give the consumer an accurate guide as to how long these foods will keep, as they may retain their quality for many years and are likely to be consumed well before they spoil.
For more info on food standards within Australia, check out the food standards government website.
Example product labeling:
Example of a product with "Best before date"
Example date on food packaging