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Frequently asked questions

How long should you keep on sale items that have gone by there best before date.

There are two types of date markings given in the legislation in respect of pre-packed food. These are:

This is applied to foods that, from a microbiological point of view, are highly perishable and are therefore likely, after a short period, to constitute an immediate danger to human health if consumed after the ‘Use By’ date has expired. These types of food include fresh meat, fish, poultry, cooked meat, pate, dairy products, ready-made meals, and soft cheeses, commonly known as ‘high risk foods’.

MINIMUM-DURABILITY DATE ('BEST BEFORE' / 'BEST BEFORE END') This is applied to foods that do not need a ‘Use By’ date. This includes products such as ambient stable, frozen and tinned foods, and includes the beer that you purchased. These foods are unlikely to become unsafe to consume after the minimum durability date has passed, but the quality of the product is likely to deteriorate.

Foods marked with a ‘Use By’ date must not be sold or displayed for sale after their marked dates. It is an offence to sell or offer for sale food past its use-by date.

Foods marked with ‘Best Before’ or ‘Best Before End’ dates may be sold after their marked dates, provided that they remain of good quality and are fit for human consumption. In these circumstances retailers are advised to ensure that customers know that the date has expired before they make the decision to buy the product. It is recommended that retailers place a sign with the items informing customers of this.