07/06/2012 12:21 | By Helenka Bednar, contributor, MSN Food
Food labels: what do they mean?

'Use by' and 'best before' dates

Supermarket haddock fillets (© MSN)
Previous5 of 11Next
Share this Gallery

So what's the difference between 'use by' and 'best before'? 'Use by' dates are displayed on fast-perishing products, to advise people of the dates within which they are safe to consume. The NHS Live Well website has this advice for consumers: "Don't use any food or drink after the end of the 'use by' date on the label, even if it looks and smells fine. This is because using it after this date could put your health at risk." 'Best before' dates refer more to the quality of a food product as opposed to safe consumption (except in the case of eggs).

Do you take notice of 'use by' dates or do you think they're a symptom of a modern paranoia? Let us know in the comments below...

02/02/2012 08:17

we are a predominately vegitarian family because of issues surrounding welfare and slaughter. I do not believe it is wrong to eat meat, there are plenty of carnivorous animals who do just that - we are part of the food chain, so I do not want to get into a debate on vegetarianism.

What I do believe, very strongly, is that if you are going to eat an animal you must take some responsibilty for it's life and it's death.

For this reason, we eat only wild, shot 'game' as we refuse to be a part of the culture which allows mass production, ie mass slaughter, for the sake of low prices. Our philosophy is that an animal which has led a free life, whose life is ended suddenly and with minimal stress or pain is more acceptable than anything that has met its end an an abbattoire. we also only eat meat once or twice a week.

That said, any regulations in place to improve animal welfare can only be good. The problem lies in policing the slaughter houses, but that is another debate. If you care about the animals you are eating, look out for these symbols. If you don't care - shame on you.

02/02/2012 13:50

My big concern is regarding HALAL meat products. The meat is produced cheaply as the abbatoirs do not have to supply stunning measures. The animals have their throats slit whilst fully concious & take up to 20 minutes to die. Most of the lamb we eat is now from New Zealand which is because the majority of the slaughter houses are Muslim staffed due to the countries proximity to Asian areas. Many meat products on our supermarket shelves are now Halal produced as this method is so much cheaper. The Government should make it law that these products are clearly labelled as 'Halal'....Heartbreaking for anyone with a moral conscience

02/02/2012 03:21
Why are Bloggers not charged for advertising on thjs site?
02/02/2012 11:43
In my experience Fairtrade products are of poor quality, the good stuff is sold to the criminal  throat cutting dealers the rest (below standard) is sold to Fairtrade. Fairtrade and politicians will deny this but I have seen this first hand in South America.
10/06/2012 10:12

I want to buy products produced in this country, but that is not easy, so much is imported.


What about buying products grown or manufactured in the UK, and helping people in the UK?

02/02/2012 10:17
The benefits for the small farmers in Latinamerica is significant. With the decent prices they get thanks to Fairtrade, (compared to the savage exploitative markets), and the margins they can use to improve their lives, send their children to school and sometimes even to university, have access to health treatment  (in countries where, following the American model, only  those who can afford a doctor can save their lives!) and secure their livelihoods in a dignified way as we are all meant to live. Everything should be Fairtrade. And we shouldn't be forced to contribute to the exploitation of our brothers and sisters in poorer Countries by opting for the cheapest option which surely is based on the slavery of the weak.
19/09/2012 12:06

I DO NOT want to eat anything containing GMO ingredients or consume products containing foods manufactured from ingredients obtained from animals that have been Fed on GMO Wheat!   I also DO NOT want to buy sweets or any confectionary containing anything GMO however, after scouring Blackpool Town Centre Shops last week,  all afternoon it was almost impossible!!   'Soy' one of 'THE BIG FOUR' ALONG WITH,  Corn,  Conola, & cottonseed is  one of the most common genetically engineered ingredients & found in all Mars,  Cadbuys,  Nestle & most of the Big Brands Sweets,  together with added Parabens which are linked to CANCER!!  The only brand I found was Lindt Excellence Dark Noir,  70% Cocoa.   I am Shocked & Furious as a Mother myself that consumers are NOT MADE MORE AWARE OF THE DANGERS OR SUSPECTED RISKS THEY GIVING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN BUYING THEM SWEETS,  CAKES,  & BISCUITS CONTAINING THESE INGREDIENTS,  WHEN ALL THEY THINK THEY ARE DOING IS BUYING THEIR CHILD/CHILDREN A TREAT !!   Me personally & I think & I am speaking on behalf of thosands of Mothers in this country,  think this infomation should be broadcasted on Prime Time News,  so at least then when shopping they can make a much more informed Choice of what they are putting in their childrens Mouths!!

02/02/2012 13:55
Red Tractor is a bare mimimum and does little more than meet the UK baseline standards. Personally, I would always look for Freedom Foods, FairTrade (especially for chocolate and coffee), Soil Association, MSC (for fish), Rainforest Alliance - it's quite a long list of labels that exist. In short: just about any label suggests higher welfare/ethical standards than Red Tractor which is just something promoted by the NFU to put an ethical front on food produced on an industrial scale!
10/06/2012 10:10


Look up sodium benzoate on the internet, and read about how bad it is for you, yet it is in loads of drinks, there is a long list of benzoates, and they are all bad for you,

E numbers, to avoid


E210   Benzoic acid


E211   Sodium benzoate


E212   Potassium benzoate

E213   Calcium benzoate


E214    Ethyl 4-hydroxybenzoate or Ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate


E215     Ethyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, sodium salt or

            sodium ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate

E216     Propyl 4-hydroxybenzoate or Propyl para-hydroxybenzoate

E217     Propyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, sodium salt, or

             sodium propyl para-hydroxybenzoate


E218     Methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate or Methyl para-hydroxybenzoate


E219      Methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate or sodium salt or

               sodium methyl para-hydroxybenzoate.

 E463      Hydroxypropyl cellulose

 E464      Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose

02/02/2012 14:27
Only ones the supermarkets will get involved are those that are a, cheap to administrate or b, easy to push the cost of compliance on to the supplier.

We have the same in the print / paper trade - FSC - achieves very little at a massive cost to the supply chain.

The old BS5750 was another good example.....
02/02/2012 15:35

I'm not so pretentious to care about fair trade. Keep and kill animals however you wish for me, use labour from the far east, just don't be so hypocritical about it. Not even Sport relief are using British manufacturing instead opting to outsource to the far east because labour is cheaper.

08/02/2013 21:41
Freedom food, RSPCA monitored but the duck I purchased was Indoor reared!!!!! Where in nature are ducks reared indoors??? And the RSPCA,  dont make me laugh, they are rarely interested if I ring about distressed animals, leaving ponies and horses til they are near death before actually doing anything (red tape is blamed) and they put down healthy animals. After all the media about horse meat etc, we can not trust  the labels on the food
02/02/2012 15:58
If I can afford the Fairtrade version of a product I am after, I will buy it. Honey, chocolate, fruit juice, clothes...
Bloody hell we've become so obsessed with labels and eating! just eat and do as you please.
02/02/2012 12:30

Fair Trade? Yeah, right!

The Co-operative ( "good with food" ) used to use that as a method of keep prices high, while thinking that the customer wouldn't see through this ploy. They even went as far as make a few documentaries featuring Chris Martin from Coldplay in an attempt to baffle us with more B-S. Eye-rolling

There was nothing really fair about the Fair Trade nonsense.  Wink

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

more on msn food