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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Use-by date (UBD) and Best-before date (BBD)

Use-By Date (UBD) and Best Before Date (BBD)

Two types of information that should not be confused

Updated on 04/08/2016

Keywords : Food labelling, Use-by date (UBD) and Best-before date (BBD)

Terms such as “Use by”, “Use before” or “Best before” are printed on the packaging of food products, but do you know what they really mean and how to use the information to ensure the products are consumed in total safety?

When consuming food products, you should always follow the instructions on the packaging. There are two types of dates that provide information about the length of time a product is fit for consumption.


Not to be confused

  • The Use-By Date(UBD) indicates the date by which a product must be consumed. This date must be respected. Beyond this date, the product is legally unfit for consumption since it may represent a health risk for the consumer. All fresh, packaged products must display this information (which must be placed on the product by the manufacturer) and cannot be sold after this date.
  • The Best Before Date(BBD) indicates the date after which a food product may lose some of its qualities (flavour and/or nutritional value) although it can be consumed without any risk to health. This information is particularly found on drinks and grocery products (pasta, rice, sugar, canned food, etc).


Packaging may also display other important information for your safety:

  • The storage temperature shown on the food packaging must be respected; if not, the safety of the product is no longer guaranteed.
  • This also true if the packaging carries cooking instructions (for example, cook thoroughly through for sausages and beef burgers).
  • Manufacturers may also recommend the time-period for consumption once the product has been opened (to be used within 2 or 3 days of opening, for example).

In addition, watch out for swollen packaging, tins with bulges, no “popping” sound when opening a jar, unpleasant smells or abnormal colouring: these are signs of a health hazard and the food should be thrown away.

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