Q. How come many of the cans in my cupboard have no use-by dates on them?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 02 May 2014.
Tagged: Best Before Date, food labels, food safety, label, tips, Use-By Date

Q. How come many of the cans in my cupboard have no use-by dates on them?

THE QUESTION IN FULL

Q. I checked my kitchen cupboard and couldn't find Use-by dates on half of my canned foods. Even on a can of spaghetti sauce, which contains meat, there was no Use-by date. How come?

A. Remember you'll see two main different types of dates on food products – 'Use-by' dates or 'Best-before' dates.

Use-by dates are found on products which have a chance of causing sickness if they are consumed after this date.

Best-before dates are on products that won't perish immediately or cause health and safety problems if eaten, but which will deteriorate nutritionally and quality wise after this date.

The exception to this is bread, which can be labelled with a Baked-on or Baked-for date. You can read more about Dates on my site here.

Packaged foods only carry a date if they have shelf life of LESS THAN 2 YEARS. Foods that can last greater than 2 years - such as your spaghetti sauce as well as soups and other cans - don't have to have a Use-by date by law which explains why you couldn't find one.

However, if you take a look at the bottom of a can, you'll see the can's packing code - somewhere in fine print. With this code, you can call the manufacturer and they can advise you of the exact date of manufacture and/or packing of the product.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.