Expiry and Distribution – A Quick Explainer

Foodbank Victoria receives a wide variety of food and grocery products from our generous donors. Many of our products come to us because they are nearing the end of their shelf life, and we work hard to ensure that those products are distributed to our agency partners as quickly as possible.

Under Australian (and NZ) Food Safety Standards, there are two main types of expiry – ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’. The vast majority of food products you will see at Foodbank Victoria and on your supermarket shelves will feature one of these formats.

Use By Date (UBD)

A mark of product safety. You should not distribute or consume foods after their Use By Date, and it is illegal to sell a product after its Use By has elapsed without an official shelf life extension from the product manufacturer. In some cases shelf life can be extended by freezing a product before its UBD.

Best Before Date (BBD)

The most common format. Most packaged foods feature a BBD, which is an indicator of a product’s quality up to a certain date. These products can be legally sold and safely consumed after their Best Before Date, although the quality will often begin to decline.

We have worked with our network of over 2,000 food donors to develop the below issue guide. This is a suggestion and is not legal advice, but it is very similar to Foodbank Victoria’s own distribution guide.

Product Group Suggestion for Agency Issue Guide
Prepacked fresh meat Up to UBD, or may be hard frozen prior to UBD and re-labelled accordingly
Prepacked fruit & vegetables Up to UBD
Products with UBD Date Up to UBD
Fresh bread BBD + up to 3 days
Thickened cream BBD + 2 weeks
Yoghurts, dips BBD + 2 weeks
Dairy desserts BBD + 2 weeks
Eggs BBD + 2 weeks
Sour cream, soft cream (incl cottage cheese) BBD + 4 weeks
Shredded cheese BBD + 4 weeks
Soft cheese e.g. brie, camembert, blue BBD + 4 weeks
High water content cheese e.g. feta, ricotta BBD + 4 weeks
UHT Milk BBD + 8 weeks
Non-dairy UHT milk e.g. soy, almond BBD + 6 weeks
Hard cheese e.g. cheddar, edam BBD + 4 months
Butter and butter blends BBD + 4 months
Margarine BBD + 4 months
Frozen protein – uncooked BBD + 3 months
Frozen protein – cooked BBD + 6 months
All other frozen products BBD + 6 months
Baby food Up to BBD
All other grocery / shelf stable BBD + 6 months

For further information, please visit the Food Standards Australia & NZ website (www.foodstandards.gov.au) or get in touch with us directly.