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Expiry dates

When you purchase prepackaged food, always check its expiry date or best before date. This date indicates the end of the food’s shelf life. Quality may decline once that date has passed.

The expiry or best before date also indicates how fresh a packaged food item is, as long as it has been stored properly.

Manufacturers and distributors must label most prepackaged foods with their storage life if it is 90 days or less.


Fresh fruits and vegetables: Retailers are not required to specify a storage life.  

Food packaged at the point of sale: Retailers can post a storage life near the food instead of on the label. You will see this sometimes in the fresh meat aisle.

Products packaged on demand: Products packaged by a clerk at a consumer’s request do not need a label (e.g., deli meat and cheese sliced and packaged on demand, boxed lunches or takeout meals purchased at the counter). 

Last update: March 26, 2024


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