Surplus food redistribution labelling guidance

Date labels, storage advice and freezing for food safety.

This summary information produced by WRAP, the Food Standards Agency and Defra covers date labelling and storage instruction requirements for surplus food, in order for it to be safely redistributed. The aim is to increase the amount of food made available by food businesses for redistribution and accepted by recipient organisations.

Redistribution labelling guide

The Redistribution labelling guide covers date labelling and storage instruction requirements for surplus food, in order for it to be safely redistributed, along with guidance for freezing and relabelling fresh food, and was originally published in 2017. The  guide outlines simple information across four key food categories that typically carry a ‘Best Before’ date:

  • uncut fresh produce;
  • bread and bakery;
  • ambient products packaged in cans, jars, packets; and
  • frozen foods.

It stresses the importance of visual checks of food and packaging to ensure the food is of good quality.

The guide has been updated (April 2020) to advise on how long different foods can be expected to be suitable for redistribution after the ‘Best Before’ date. It outlines processes which food businesses and redistribution organisations can use to implement the guidance.

The information covers manufacturing, retail and supplier businesses, and all types of redistribution organisations.

Redistribution checklist

Also available is the Redistribution checklist, which highlights the essential labelling-related requirements for safely and legally redistributing surplus food, and the additional requirements when freezing food to be redistributed. This has also been updated (April 2020) in line with the updated guidance.

Food law

The guidance or activities around the redistribution of surplus food does not change or replace the normal legal requirements that apply to the provision of food. A food business, which could be any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any activities related to any stage of food production, processing or distribution, is subject to food law - including safety and hygiene; as well as record-keeping and traceability

Local authority Trading Standards Departments and Environmental Health Departments are responsible for advising on and enforcing food law. It is recommended that in the first instance Food Business Operators direct any questions around laws relating to the provision or handling of food that they may have, to their local authority enforcement team.