Stock rotation has been much easier since the advent of open-date coding but some products do not require a -use-by’ or ‘best-before’ date. In these cases, managers should adopt their own code to identify the date of delivery. A colour code system is one of the easiest to use:

A blue line for Monday;

A red line for Tuesday;

A green line for Wednesday ect.

A double coloured line should be used the following week. ‘Use-by’ dates are placed on perishables, high-risk, short-life products, whereas ‘best-before’ dates are used on longer life products. Products with an expired ‘use-by’ date should be considered unfit because any spoilage or pathogenic bacteria present may multiply to unacceptable levels resulting in spoilage or possible food poisoning. Those products with an expired ‘best-before’ date are more likely to be of an unacceptable quality. It is a offence to display for sale, or sell any food that is unfit or foods bearing an expired ‘use-by’ date – or to change this date. Food that is past its ‘use-by’ date should be segregated from food intended for sale. It should be placed in a suitable container or wrapped with tape that states ‘unfit’ or ‘not for sale’ or ‘date expired’. 


It is not an offence for a retailer to display or sell food with an expired ‘best-before’ date provided it  is good quality and fir for consumption. It is advisable to ensure customers know that the date has expired before they make a decision to buy. Retailers use ‘display unit’ or ‘sell by’ dates to aid stock rotation and ensure that the food item is given adequate ‘use-by’ or ‘best-before’ shelf life at time for sale.