Additional sources of information

FSA Guidance on Food Information Regulations (FIR) (December 2014): Summary guidance for food business operators and enforcement officers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland contains a section on date labelling.

The DEFRA / FSA guidance on the application of date labels to food issued in September 2011 references to the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, it should instead be considered as references to FIR. This guidance was designed to help businesses to decide whether to label their food products with either a ‘Best Before End’ or a ‘use by’ date.

Defra Guidance on Food Labelling: Giving Food Information to Consumers (October 2016) contains a section on date labelling.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Information Sheet Updating Guidance to Food Businesses on the Application of Date Marks and Related Advice (April 2017)

WRAP Product Life Feasibility Study (September 2012) – a study that examined how manufacturers and retailers set product life and how much of this time is taken within the supply chain.

WRAP Working with Businesses to Reduce Food Waste by Extending Product Life (March 2015) – an overview.

WRAP Food Waste Prevention – a guide to help you and your business challenge existing product life and ‘open’ life.

WRAP Food Waste Prevention - A Worked Example. To be read in conjunction with ‘a guide to help you & your business challenge existing product life & ‘open’ life’ (above).

FSA/F SS Guidance on the safety and shelf-life of vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods with respect to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum published by the FSA in June 2017 intended to assist food businesses, including manufacturers and retailers of chilled vacuum packed and modified atmosphere packed (VP/MAP) foods in the practical development and implementation of a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) based approach for these foods to minimise the risk of Clostridium botulinum. It explains the 10-day shelf-life rule and the requirement for additional controlling factors, where the shelf-life is greater than 10 days.

Shelf Life of Ready to Eat Food in Relation to L. monocytogenes – Guidance for Food Business Operators (the Shelf Life Guidance) was published in March 2010 by the Chilled Foods Association and British Retail Consortium. It is designed to help businesses from small food outlets to major food manufacturers calculate an accurate time period for people to eat food and minimise the risk of illness. The Guidance is also designed to help firms meet European Union microbiology rules – in particular Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005. This sets limits on micro-organisms, such as listeria, in food.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland Guidance Note 18 on Validation of Product Shelf Life (version 2) from 2014.

International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods: Microorganisms in Food 8, Use of Data for Assessing Process Control & Product Acceptance (2011). In Chapter 2 - Validation of Control Measures - there is a section (2.6) on Shelf Life Determination. This covers time-temperature indicators and time-temperature abuse.

Publication by Campden BRI: Food and beverage stability and shelf life 2011. Part 1 describes important food and beverage quality deterioration processes, including microbiological spoilage and physical instability. Chapters in this section also investigate the effects of ingredients, processing and packaging on stability, among other factors. Part 2 describes methods for stability and shelf life assessment including food storage trials, accelerated testing and shelf life modelling. Part 3 reviews the stability and shelf life of a wide range of products, including beer, soft drinks, fruit, bread, oils, confectionery products, milk and seafood.

Publication by Campden BRI: Evaluation of product shelf-life for chilled foods 2004 (Guideline No. 46) The core of the guide is organised around a series of shelf-life 'evaluation sequence' flowcharts - from pilot scale through pre-production run to full scale production. Supplementary information - such as tables of information on factors limiting microbial growth, microbiological tests that can be used in shelf-life trials, and factors that can affect shelf-life - provides a basis for further consideration of the practical aspects of shelf-life determination.

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Last reviewed: 05 Jun 2018