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Date markings and storage instructions on food labels
Other date marking systems

Expiration dates on foods for special dietary use

"Expiration date" means the date after which the manufacturer does not recommend that the product be consumed, and up to which it maintains its microbiological and physical stability and nutrient content declared on the label.

Expiration dates are not required on all foods, but only on foods for special dietary use. A food for special dietary use means food that has been specially processed or formulated to meet the particular requirements of a person [B.24.001, FDR].

The FDR requires that expiration dates must be used on the following products [B.24.001 and B.25.001, FDR]:

  • formulated liquid diets (a nutritionally complete diet for persons using oral or tube feeding methods)
  • foods represented for use in a very low-energy diet (foods sold only by a pharmacist and only with a written order from a physician)
  • meal replacements (a formulated food that, by itself, can replace one or more daily meals)
  • nutritional supplements (a food sold or represented as a supplement to a diet that may be inadequate in energy and essential nutrients)
  • human milk substitutes (infant formula)

These foods should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed as they have strict compositional and nutritional specifications which might not be met after the date.

Generally, the expiration date may be shown on any label panel, except the bottom. However, in the case of formulated liquid diets, infant formula, and foods represented as containing infant formula, this information can be shown on any panel including the bottom panel provided there is a clear indication of the location of the date elsewhere on the label [B.01.005(4), FDR]. There are no prescribed expressions for "expiration date", however, the term "Exp." is often used.

"Use by" dates on prepackaged fresh yeast

The FDR state the terms "use by" and "employez avant" may replace "best before" for pre-packaged fresh yeast only. It must be presented in the same form and manner as the "best before" date [B.01.007(7), FDR].

"Sell by", "Prepared on", "Freeze by", "Manufactured on" dates

Other date marking systems such as "sell by" dates, "prepared on" dates, "freeze by" dates and "manufactured on" dates may be of value to the consumer or the manufacturer (e.g., lot codes) and therefore are not prohibited on food products, provided they are not misleading and the label meets appropriate requirements. However, they do not replace the requirements for "best before" dates and any dating system that has the same intent as durable life information must follow the prescribed manner of declaration.

"Freeze by" dates

It is acceptable to declare a "freeze by" date in addition to, and that is the same as, the "best before" date in a clear statement indicating that the product can be frozen if not consumed by the "best before" date.

For example:

Best before / Meilleur avant or Freeze by / Congelez avant
June 28 juin

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