Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers establishes the basis for ensuring a high level of consumer protection as regards food information, taking into consideration differences in perception and the information needs of consumers, while ensuring the proper functioning of the internal market.
According to Article 9 of this Regulation, the date of minimum durability or the “use by” date for consumption are mandatory information for all foodstuffs.
In view of some doubts that have emerged, it is important to clarify the interpretation be given on the label of the foodstuff.
1. "Use by date" for microbiological food products (fresh meat, fresh fish, etc.) and are therefore liable to present an immediate danger to human health after a short period of time. In these cases, the labeling shall include the words "use by ..." and shall not be marketed after the date referred to above;
2. "Date of minimum durability", applicable to food products which are not readily perishable (pasta, rice, preserves, flour, sugar, olive oil, oils, etc.) and which corresponds to the date by which the Economic Operator responsible for this food considers that foodstuffs retain their specific properties under appropriate storage conditions. However, there is no legal provision establishing minimum durability according to the type of foodstuff and it is therefore for the operator himself to establish, by means of stability tests, a recommended cut-off date, to which he is responsible for the safety of the product. In these cases, the words "best before ... or best before end ..." shall appear on the label and there shall be no prohibition on sale after the expiry of the date indicated on the labeling. So, at the retail level, once the date of minimum durability has been reached, and recommended by the operator who produced the food, the retail operator, considering the product itself, may choose to keep it available for sale for a longer time, assuming responsibility for its safety and properly informing the consumer that the products have the date of minimum durability exceeded.
In conclusion, a non-perishable foodstuff may continue to be marketed after expiring the durability date provided, unless the consumer is informed and provided that the economic operator is in a position to ensure that the product complies with the general characteristics of food law and in particular those relating to food and their safety.
Our Labeling & Regulatory Division can support every company who needs support to verify their labeling, in order to not incur in this kind of infractions.
Source: DGAV (General Director for Food and Veterinary)