News article

28 November 2017

FDF guidance to help manufacturers set the shelf-life of products

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The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has today published Industry Guidance on Setting Product Shelf Life. The guidance document aims to help food and drink manufacturers understand the requirements to assign the most appropriate 'Use By' or 'Best Before' date for their product.

The guidance clarifies the difference between 'Use By' and 'Best Before' date labelling and highlights the importance of validating the shelf-life proposed for a food and the procedure required to do so. The document also includes information for food business operators about factors affecting shelf-life, practical advice based on common misinterpretations, and additional sources of information.

FDF hopes the guidance will contribute to supporting both food safety and waste reduction.

Helen Munday, Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation, said:

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

Andrew Parry, Special Advisor at WRAP, said:

“Determining shelf-life is important in ensuring that food is safe and of good quality, and also that we have long enough to eat it, to avoid unnecessary food 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.”

Notes for editors:

  1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit:
  2. Industry Guidance on Setting Product Shelf Life can be found here.
  3. FDF's Ambition 2025 is a set of industry-wide commitments to further reduce environmental impacts, protect natural capital, and contribute to the delivery of a sustainable food system for the future. More information can be found here.
  4. Courtauld 2025 is an ambitious voluntary agreement that brings together organisations across the food system – from producer to consumer – to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. More information can be found here.

More information

Contact Skye Oudemans, Corporate Affairs Division, at:, or 02074207120.

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