What is date marking and why is it necessary?
To help consumers make well-informed choices, it is a legal requirement for soft drinks and other foodstuffs to be labelled with various pieces of important information, including a list of ingredients, nutritional information and date marking.
It is really important for consumers to know until when their food or drink is safe to consume, or is at its best quality.
Depending on the type of product, consumers will see either a ‘use by’ date, or a ‘best before’ date. Here is what they mean:
- ‘use by’ refers to food safety. Provided they have been stored appropriately and the package has not been opened or damaged, products can be consumed until this date but not after, even if they look and smell fine. ‘Use by’ is used for foods such as fresh meat and fish, and dairy products.
- ‘best before’ refers to food quality. Products can be safely consumed after this date but may no longer be of the best quality in terms of texture and flavour. ‘Best before’ is used for products such as soft drinks, and for canned, dried, and frozen foods.
Understanding date marking can also help prevent food waste
According to a study carried out by the European Commission (2018), misunderstanding of date marking generates up to 10% of the 88 million tonnes of food waste annually in the EU. This shows that promoting a better understanding of date marking, as we are doing here, is key in helping prevent food waste.
In turn, reducing food waste can contribute to a more sustainable EU food environment, as food waste has major climate impacts.