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Knowing what these terms mean will help you understand the labels, which in turn will help you make informed choices about the food you buy.

A "best-before" date, also known as a durable life date, tells you when the durable life period of a prepackaged food ends.

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You can buy and eat foods after the best-before date has passed. Storing your food properly is one of the key things you can do to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.

However, when this date has passed, the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or its texture may have changed. It is not illegal to sell a product if its best-before date has passed.

The best-before date must be identified using the words "best before" and "" grouped together with the date, unless a clear explanation of the significance of the best-before date appears elsewhere on the label.

Similarly, packaged-on dates must also be grouped together with the date, using the words "packaged on" and "".

An expiration date is not the same as a best-before date.

Expiration dates are required only on certain foods that have strict compositional and nutritional specifications which might not be met after the expiration date.

These may appear on food products as long as they are not misleading and the label meets appropriate requirements.

These include: If consumers want more information about food packaged at the retail store, such as the "packaged on" date, they can ask the retailer for this information.

Information about dates on pre-packaged food is a valuable source of information for consumers.

A basic understanding of what terms are used can help you to better understand these labels.

Expiration dates must be used on the following products: After the expiration date, the food may not have the same nutrient content declared as on the label.