Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has defined ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by date’ and also laid down the regulations of how to label this important information on packaged foods in FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011.
“Best before” is the date on the label that indicates the end of the period in which the condition of the food, under storage, will remain as stated. During this period the food product will remain fully marketable and shall retain all those specific qualities which it is understood to have or which have been claimed on the label. After this date the food may still be safe to consume but the quality would have deteriorated. However, the food product will not be sold after the ‘best before’ date if it becomes unsafe for the consumer.
“Use by date” or “Recommended last consumption date” or “Expiry date” is the date on the label that indicates the estimated end of the stated storage period after which the condition of food will probably not have the quality and safety attributes normally expected by the consumers and the food shall not be sold.
What is a Packaged Food?
Any food article which could be in raw, half processed or processed condition and is covered with a packaging material to protect it from physical, chemical and microbial contamination, also having a label giving information about the food product. The packaging should be in such a manner that contents cannot be changed without tempering it and which is ready for sale to the consumer
The following instructions have to be followed when displaying the dates on the labels:
The words MONTH and YEAR up to which the food is best for consumption have to be written in CAPITAL letters.
BEST BEFORE ……….MONTHS AND YEAR
BEST BEFORE………. MONTHS FROM PACKAGING
BEST BEFORE …………MONTHS FROM MANUFACTURE
The blank spaces have to be filled up with the actual dates.
(Eg. BEST BEFORE JULY 2014 OR BEST BEFORE 12 MONTHS FROM PACKAGING)
In case of package or bottle containing sterilised or Ultra High Temperature treated milk, soya milk, flavoured milk, any package containing bread, ‘dhokla,’ ‘bhelpuri’, pizza, doughnuts, ‘khoa’, ‘paneer’, or any uncanned package of fruits, vegetable, meat, fish or any other like commodity, then the display on the label will be as follows:
BEST BEFORE ……….DATE/MONTH/YEAR
BEST BEFORE……..DAYS FROM PACKAGING
BEST BEFORE …….. DAYS FROM MANUFACTURE
NOTE: You have to fill up the blank space with actual date. Month and year may be written in numerals, year may be given in two digits)
(Eg. BEST BEFORE 25/07/14 or as BEST BEFORE 25 July 2014)
• On packages of Aspartame, you have to mention ‘Use by date/recommended last consumption date/expiry date’ and not ‘Best Before’. ‘Use by date; cannot be more than three years from the date of packing.
• In case of infant milk substitute and infant foods mention only ‘Use by date/recommended last consumption date/expiry date’ on the label and NOT ‘Best before’.
• The ‘best before date does not have to be written on wines and liquors or alcoholic beverages that contain 10% or more of volume of alcohol content.
• ‘Best before’ also does not apply to carbonated water (plain soda and potable water impregnated with carbon dioxide under pressure) packed in returnable glass bottles.
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