Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine

How do manufacturers calculate use-by dates on their products?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Some foods are perfectly safe to eat after their use-by dates, especially if frozen, but there are safety limits for a reason - so how are they calculated?

Asked by: Trevor Wooding, Snodland

Advertisement

Use-by dates only apply to perishable products such as dairy foods, vegetables and beer. To determine the dates, samples of the food are monitored in a microbiology lab, in similar packaging and environmental conditions to those of the retail outlet and the home. Food scientists then test the samples for traces of known pathogens. The use-by date is calculated according to the point where levels of the microbes start to exceed safe limits.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.

Authors

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content