Supply chain · 28 November 2017

New guidance published to help food and drink businesses set product shelf-life

It is hoped the guide will improve both food safety and waste reduction
It is hoped the product shelf-life guide will improve both food safety and waste reduction

A body representing Britain’s food and drink manufacturers has published new guidelines to help firms label product shelf-life, targeting improved safety standards and waste reduction.

Via a new online document, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has sought to clarify the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates, and has offered practical advice based on common misinterpretations of standards, a list of dos and don’ts and a glossary of terms.

The organisation hopes the new guidelines will support both food safety and waste reduction among large and small manufacturers.

By using the guide, the FDF claimed producers would be able to assign the most appropriate expiry date for any product. 

Commenting on the new guidelines, Helen Munday, the FDF’s chief scientific officer, said it would act as an essential resource for owners of food and drink businesses.

“This easy to use document will guide food and drink manufacturers in assigning and labelling the shelf-life of products appropriately,” she explained.

“It is our ambition to help manufacturers and those who consume our products ensure the highest levels of food safety alongside meeting waste reduction targets. This is part of our contribution to our own environmental Ambition 2025, as well as wider targets, such as the Courtauld Commitment 2025.”

Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, agreed that reducing food waste, without compromising the safety of food was a commitment shared with the FDF.

She added: “I welcome the publication of this sensible guidance on setting product shelf life, and explaining what factors affect the expiry date of a food product. This is another welcome step towards preventing safe food from going to waste.”

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) charity also threw its support behind the guide. WRAP’s special advisor, Andrew Parry, said a product shelf-life was vital to food quality and safety, and in avoiding unnecessary waste.

WRAP welcomes this new guidance for manufacturers from the FDF, which will complement our own broader guidance on date labelling and storage advice, which has been developed with Defra and the Food Standards Agency and will be published later this year,” Parry said.

Here’s all you need to know before running a small food business

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

Ask a question

Supply chain