In food safety, the importance of labeling on food products cannot be underestimated. Any food product lacking adequate labeling is a threat to the health and confidence of a consumer. It is because of this that different countries have specified guidelines when it comes to consumer food labeling.
In the United Kingdom for example, foodstuffs have two labels: the health related issues and the deteriorating nature of the food product. An EHO Food Hygiene certification is necessary for the preparation and distribution of food products. The certification needs to be updated every five years, though there are no specified expiry dates. Products that deteriorate much faster are well labeled, whereby up to a certain date they can no longer be consumed.
In the United States however, the expiry date is not as essential, with the exception of infant foods and dairy products. Manufacturers in the country choose whether or not they want to indicate the expiry date on their food products. Perishable foods are properly labeled with a ‘Sell By’ date, the consumer therefore decides when after the date he or she can consume the product. Other labeling statements on several food products in the country are ‘Best if used by,’ ‘Expiration date,’ ‘Pack date,’ ‘Use-by’ date and ‘Guaranteed fresh’ date.
In Australia and New Zealand, there is a guide to Food Labeling and Other Information Requirements providing information on labeling expectations in the Code. This code applies to retail food as well as catering services, restaurants, schools and other institutions. The information in this guide applies both to food for retail sale and to food for catering purposes.