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Decisions: Best Before Date / Durable Life

Best Before Date - Fresh Prepackaged Chopped Fruit & Vegetables

Question: Does the exemption from the requirement to declare a "best before" date (durable life date) on fresh fruit and vegetables (subsection B.01.007(3) of the Food and Drug Regulations) extend to prepackaged, chopped or shredded fresh fruit and vegetables?

Answer: Yes, the exemption from declaring a best before date on fresh fruit and vegetables extends to chopped and shredded fresh product. When the original exemption was instituted, the sale of chopped and shredded fresh fruit and vegetables was not anticipated, as the shelf life for such product is much shorter than the whole product. However, since the chopped and shredded forms are still considered to be "fresh fruits and vegetables", the exemption applies. (14/09/90)

Best Before Date on Modified Atmosphere Packaged Foods

Question: When meat is prepackaged in individual portions at a manufacturing plant and shipped to retail stores in outer containers that have been flushed with a modified atmosphere (i.e. CO2) designed to extend shelf life, is the meat manufacturing plant required to label the individual portions of meat with a "best before" date (durable life date)?

Answer: No, although section B.01.007 of the Food and Drug Regulations requires date marking on food products that have a durable life of less than 90 days, administratively, these products are not required to be so labelled by the manufacturer. The durable life of these products is largely dependant upon when the outer shipping container is opened and the prepackaged product is exposed to air. Consequently, a best before date established by the manufacturer could be potentially misleading to the consumer. These products are date labelled by the retailer. (01/12/91)

Best Before - Retail-Packed Foods

Question: If a "best before date" is voluntarily being declared on retail-packed foods, are storage instructions also required?

Answer: Yes, retail packed foods that declare a "best before date" are also required to declare the storage conditions, if they differ from room temperature. Section B.01.007 of the Food and Drug Regulations establishes date labelling requirements for foods with durable lives of less that 90 days:

  • The label of a food packaged at the retail premises from which it is sold is required to declare (1) the "packaged on date" and (2)the durable life of the food (i.e. 4 days), except when the durable life is declared on a poster next to the food.
  • The label of a food which is packaged at a place other than the retail premises from which it is sold is required to declare (1) a "best before date" and (2) storage conditions, if the product requires storage conditions other than normal room temperature.

Administratively, retail packaged foods have been allowed to declare a "best before date" in place of a "packaged on date". When these products require storage conditions that differ from normal room temperature, they must declare storage instructions on the label, i.e. "keep refrigerated". (10/07/90)