It is our aim to help ensure that food is redistributed where it is needed and prevent needless waste.

Below is important guidance about food date labelling.*

‘Use By’ date (food safety)

Food cannot be sold, redistributed or consumed after this date. The only exception to this is if the food has gone through a safe freezing or cooking process, before the ‘Use By’ date has passed, and has been appropriately re-labelled.

Best Before Date’

The ‘Best Before’ date relates to food quality. Food with a ‘Best Before’ date can be sold, redistributed and consumed after this date. Providing food is stored in appropriate conditions – and has not become otherwise contaminated, it will be safe to consume for a period of time after the ‘Best Before’ date has passed.

Receiving Surplus

If receiving surplus near or beyond its ‘Best Before’ date, check all products are of sufficient quality, pack integrity is maintained, and indicate how long each will be good to eat.  Some foods can be consumed up to 3 years after their best before date. More detailed guidance can be found in the table below and here.

Fresh produce (uncut)
Their suitability for consumption is likely to depend on factors like the food type, the variety, seasonality, and the nature of the individual item.
1 day to 2 weeks or more (for a more robust item – such as a swede)Confirm absence of moulds or rotting.
Bread and bakery
Packed bread and bakery products
2 days – 1 weekInspect for quality, especially for the presence of mould (samples may need to be opened to allow this inspection).
Bread and bakery
Items sold in long life packaging (e.g. some pitta breads)
1 month+As above in foods that can support mould growth. See the example for Cakes below.
Ambient Packet
1 monthConfirm absence of staleness; confirm pack integrity maintained
Ambient Packet
3 monthsConfirm pack integrity maintained
Ambient Packet
6 monthsConfirm pack integrity
Ambient Packet
Dried pasta and pulses
3 yearsConfirm pack integrity
Ambient Canned foods:
3 yearsConfirm pack integrity is maintained and can is free from dents
Ambient Foil pac
Dry pasta/Soup mix/etc.
3 yearsConfirm pack integrity
Ambient Jars
3 yearsConfirm integrity of seal and jars free from damage

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*Data collated from the WRAP, the Food Standards Agency and Defra guidance (updated April 2020) found at: