Food Safety Focus (70th Issue, May 2012) – Food Incident Highlight
Expiry Date: Safety Vs Quality
To ensure quality and safety of our food, it is important to check expiry dates on food products before consumption. Under the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap. 132W), prepackaged food shall be marked or labelled with appropriate durability indication.
In the case of some highly perishable prepackaged food (e.g. pasteurised fresh milk, eggs, sandwiches, etc.) which are likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health, a “use by” date should be used. For other prepackaged food products, a “best before” date shall be indicated. The food may not be at its best flavour and quality beyond the date.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducts regular checks on labels, including information on expiry date, of prepackaged food products available in the local market. Under current regulations, it is an offence to sell any food after its “use by” date. In 2011, the CFS conducted more than 55 000 label checking and 25 prosecutions were pursued. Consumers are advised to choose food before its “use by” date and be wary of the quality of food beyond the “best before” date.