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Frequently asked questions

I bought Newcastle brown ale from the co op today 6/7/2018 one of the bottles was dated 30/11/2017.i never drank it but is this legal to still sell it to customers 8 months past it sell by date?

Please see the table below which explains a little about Best Before and Use By dates.

It is likely that the beer will have a Best Before date rather than a Sell By date so this is more likely to be a quality issue than a food safety issue. If a ‘Sell By’ date is applied to any product it is for a retailers own use and has no legal status.

Retailers are permitted to sell beer or other food that has passed its Best Before date but it is recommended they make customers aware of this.

Best before, Use by & Sell by dates

Best before

Use by

Sell by

For most foods, the 'best before' date mark is appropriate. It relates to the quality of the food and is an indication of the period for which a food can reasonably be expected to retain its optimal condition.

Retailers can sell food after the best-before date provided the food is safe to eat.

However, it is recommended that retailers inform prospective purchasers that any food is beyond its ‘best before date’ prior to a customer purchasing it. Food beyond its Best Before date may not be of the nature, substance or quality that the consumer might reasonably expect.

For foods that are highly perishable 'use by' is the required form of date mark. These foods present a microbiological risk to the consumer if sold or consumed after the indicated date, and so this relates to the safety of the food.

It is an offence for shops to sell food that is after the use-by date.

Products may be labelled with 'sell by' and 'display until' dates, but these are not required by law and are used mainly for stock control purposes within business premises. (There are different rules for eggs.)