Why Are Food Date Labels Important to Retailers and Consumers?

Why Are Food Date Labels Important to Retailers and Consumers

Every food item is required to display a sell-by or best-before date on the packaging. Many of us barely notice this when we are shopping for groceries, since people tend to trust the manufacturers and retailers to do the right thing and take any expired items off sale. However, mistakes can sometimes happen, so if you are shopping for food items, it’s always a good idea to double-check the dates before you buy. Going through your kitchen to check the dates stamped on food items is also good practice, especially when it comes to long-life items that you may have had for some time. 

Why Are Best Before and Sell by Dates Needed on Food?

Best before and sell by dates are printed on food labels to ensure that both retailers and consumers are informed about the shelf life of the product. The date printed on the food item will provide you with further information on how long you can expect the product to last before it will begin to deteriorate or become unsafe to consume. A ‘use by’ date indicates how long the food item can be stored before it should be either consumed or disposed of. After this date, foods may be unsafe to consume and could cause sickness due to bacteria build-up. 

Why Dates Matter to Food Businesses

If you run a business that sells food items, understanding use by and best before date stamps, why they are needed and how they work is important. You could be fined or even shut down for selling certain foods after their use by date. If you sell fresh foods, it’s important to make sure that any unsold products that have passed the use by date are no longer sold to customers. On the other hand, a ‘best before’ date works slightly differently. Many long-life products are still safe to consume after their best before date, and businesses are permitted to sell them for a discount after the date has passed. If you run a food business, you can get date codes for your products from

Foods That Are Unsafe to Consume After the Use by Date

Ultimately, it’s down to the customer to decide whether or not they are happy to consume a certain item of food after the use by or best before date has passed. Most people will consider consuming the food if it still appears to be fresh and does not smell unpleasant. However, it’s important to be careful with certain foods that are more likely to become contaminated with bacteria and unsafe to consume once the use by date has passed. Fish, meat, poultry, and fruit and vegetables can be harmful to your health if eaten after the use-by date, even if they seem fine. Freezing these products is an ideal way to extend their shelf life if needed. 

Whether you’re buying food or selling food, use by and best before dates offer an important way to figure out what is safe to eat and what should be thrown away. 

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