Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - UK - 2015

FSA Enforcement Letter (ENF/E/15/036), 19 November 2015

HYGIENE - Enforcement of breaches in relation to ‘use by’ dates

The following is the introduction to a document prepared by the Food Hygiene Division of the Food Standards Agency.  The full document is available on this site.  See: Enforcement of breaches in relation to ‘use by’ dates


The question of enforcement powers relating to food which is discovered in food businesses following the expiry of the ‘use by’ date has been raised in a number of forums. We have been working to clarify the position and to provide the framework which will help enforcement officers in these situations.


Since the introduction of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (“FIC”), there has been a level of uncertainty as to where the enforcement powers for the ‘use by’ provisions now sit and whether there is the legal basis for both EHOs and TSOs to enforce them. This has led us to check the understanding of the current policy with Defra and in various discussion threads on the Knowledge Hub.

The paper at the Annex sets out that the situation has not changed with the introduction of the FIC and that both EHOs and TSOs still have the relevant authority to take action in situations where a breach of the regulations is discovered. It explains that it remains an offence to place food with an expired ‘use by’ date on the market and if such food is discovered then it must automatically be deemed unsafe. This is not a rebuttable presumption.

The paper also offers some examples in order to assist enforcement officers although it should be noted that this is not a full guidance document, nor would it be possible to try and address every possible scenario.

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