Looking at best-before date on milk bottle in supermarket.
Research report
5 June 2020

Use-by dates on food

We take a look at the food-dating game.

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Previous member
28 Feb 2019
Is it still ok on the use by date?

Your article states good will be fine before the use-by date, but what about ‘on’ the day itself?

Richard W.
19 Feb 2019
Dates on frozen meat

I've seen frozen turkeys in the supermarket without a best before date, useby date, or a date it was packed. So there is no way to tell how old it is. Is this permitted as meat has a limited life in the freezer? The supermarket couldn't provide me with these dates.

Consumer staff
25 Feb 2019
Re: Dates on frozen meat

Hi Richard,

The Food Standards Code specifies that most foods be marked with either a use-by-date or a best-before date. The exceptions are bread, which can be labelled with a baked on or baked for date, and foods that have a shelf life of two years or longer, such as some canned foods.

There are no specific requirements for foods that are frozen but as a consumer I think it’s reasonable that retailers provide a date on a frozen turkey so you can be informed about how long it’s been in the freezer for.

Kind regards,

Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

Amanda G.
22 Oct 2018
Waitoa Chicken

I recently bought a Waitoa free-range butterfly chicken. The pack was marked with a Best Before date. Shouldn't this have been a Use By date?

Consumer staff
24 Oct 2018
Re: Waitoa Chicken

Hi Amanda,

Chicken, and other raw chilled meats, will normally have a best-before date because they are cooked before eating. Cooking ensures they are safe to eat. You’ll mainly see use-by-dates on chilled ready-to-eat foods that could grow harmful bacteria. It’s illegal for food to be sold after its use-by date.


Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

Peter H.
02 Jul 2017
Expiry date on tins of tuna

Where can I find the expiry date on a tin of tuna?
Sometimes, the supermarket has tins of Sealord tuna on special. How can I tell if this is old stock?
Or if I find a tin in the back of my cupboard, how do I tell if it is too old?


Previous member
03 Jul 2017
Re: Expiry date on tins of tuna

Hi Peter,

Not all canned foods will have a use-by or best-before date, so we'd suggest rotating your stock and using the older cans first. Cans with a shelf-life of more than 2 years don’t need a best-before date. But foods that need to be eaten within a certain time while it’s still safe must have a use-by date. As long as the cans are stored and sealed properly, they should last a long time.

Kind regards,
Fonda – Consumer NZ staff