Skip to main content

Policy Issue: Date Labeling

Date labels on food products are often inconsistently used or poorly defined, leading to confusion about what foods are safe to consume and donate. Our issue brief outlines common obstacles around date labeling and policy best practices.

Read the Issue Brief

Atlas Research: Date Labeling

Issue Brief Icon

Issue Brief

The issue brief provides an overview on date labeling legislation and highlights best practices around the world to optimize date label clarity and educate consumers, donors, and food recovery organizations about the meaning of different date labels.

English Spanish
Webinar Icon

Webinar Synopsis

We brought together government stakeholders for an in-depth conversation about date labels and their relationship to food donation.

Read Synopsis

Best Practices: Date Labeling

All countries should implement the following best practices to ensure that food is not lost or wasted due to unclear or inconsistent date labeling schemes:

Legislation icon

Implement a Dual-Date Labeling Scheme

A standardized dual date labeling scheme clearly differentiates between a quality-based (“best before”) and a safety-based label (“use by”). Use a safety date for items that will increase in risk over time and quality-based dates otherwise.

Donation icon

Allow Donation Past Quality-Based Date

Policy should expressly permit the sale and donation of food past the quality-based date.

Education icon

Educate on Date Label Meaning

Governments should provide education and awareness campaigns in partnership with the private sector to maximize the effectiveness of the date labeling scheme.

Countries with Strong Policies: Date Labeling

United Kingdom flag

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a mandatory policy that standardizes date labels so that products include either a “use by” date, which indicates food safety, or a “best before” date, which indicates food quality, in line with the UN Codex Alimentarius recommendations.

Show more +

This policy expressly prohibits the sale or donation of food after its “use by” date and expressly permits the sale or donation of food after its “best before” date. Further, the United Kingdom and its devolved countries have launched a number of education campaigns geared toward improving general understanding of food recovery strategies, including the meaning of date labels.

Show less -
Israel flag

Israel

Israel employs a dual date labeling scheme, differentiating between foods sensitive to spoilage and those that are not.

Show more +

On a food item, one of two expiry date labels is used: (1) “use by” (לשימוש עד תאריך) is a safety-related date for food that is sensitive to microbial spoilage or (2) “best before” (להשתמש לפני תאריך) for nonsensitive foods, determined by the manufacturer. The Public Health (Food) Protection Law (PHPL) permits food distribution (recovery) organizations to redistribute nonsensitive foods past the recommended date of use provided they have written authorization from the manufacturer.

Show less -

Mapping food donation policies around the world

The Atlas evaluates laws and policies across the most relevant issue areas relating to food donation and food loss and waste. Explore the map to compare and contrast existing legislation and learn from best practices around the world.

Explore Interactive Map

Learn more about The Atlas and how to support this work.

Page with Checkmark Icon
About Us

Learn about the project and the partners behind this flagship research.

Search icon
Methodology

Read our detailed project methodology rooted in inclusion, accuracy, and transparency.

Communication bubbles icon
Contact Us

Connect with our project team and learn about opportunities to join and support our work.