The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has unveiled a guidance document aimed to help food and drink manufacturers understand the requirements to assign the most appropriate ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date for their product.

Industry Guidance on Setting Product Shelf Life clarifies the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ date labelling system and highlights the importance of validating the shelf-life proposed for a food product and the procedure required to do so.

It also includes information for food business operators about factors affecting shelf-life, practical advice based on common misinterpretations and additional sources of information.

Helen Munday, chief scientific officer, Food and Drink Federation, commented: “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, said: “Reducing food waste, without any compromise to the safety of food, is a commitment we at the Food Standards Agency share with the FDF.

“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.”