date marking

Quick Reference

On packaged foods, ‘Best before’ is the date up until which the food will remain in optimum condition, i.e. will not be stale. Foods with a shelf life of up to 12 weeks are marked ‘best before day, month, year’; foods with a longer shelf life are marked ‘best before end of month, year’.

Perishable foods with a shelf life of less than a month may have a ‘sell-by’ date instead. ‘Use by’ date is given for foods that are microbiologically highly perishable and could become a danger to health; it is the date up to and including which the food may be safely used if stored properly.

Frozen foods and ice cream carry star markings which correspond to the star marking on freezers and frozen food compartments of refrigerators. Food in a 1‐star rated compartment (−4 °C, 25 °F) will keep for one week; 2‐star rated (−11 °C, 12 °F), 1 month; 3‐star rated (−18 °C, 0 °F), 3 months. Corresponding times for ice cream are 1 day, 1 week, 1 month (after such times they are still fit to eat but the texture changes).

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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