Food Safety: Expiry Dates

Making sure food is safe to eat is extremely important for consumers, manufacturers and retailers. One risk to food safety is the growth of harmful bacteria over time. The growth of this bacteria in food can vary depending on type of food and the way it is stored. For this reason, it is extremely important to inform the consumer of when food will become unsafe to eat, as well as how to store and prepare it correctly.

To protect consumers, the manufacturers and retailers must provide certain information on their packaging:

  • Use by/Best before date
  • Name of the food
  • List of ingredients – including allergens
  • Quantity of product
  • Special storage conditions
  • Name and address of the food business operator
  • Country of origin
  • Nutritional declaration


What is the difference between a ‘Use by’ and a ‘Best before’ label?

‘Use by’  = Food Safety

  • Found on foods such as meat and dairy, stating the day/month by which the food will become unsafe to eat.

Best before’ = Food Quality

  • Most often found on canned goods, cereals and frozen produce to signify the day/month when the taste of the food will not be of the same quality as when produced.



Here’s a helpful resource to explain to and engage with students about the difference between the two labels: