It’s a date!

It’s a date!

Learning about best before and use by dates and why they are important for food safety.

60-80 minutes

CfE Experiences and Outcomes

  • HWB 2-33a - Having learned about cleanliness, hygiene and safety, I can apply these principles to my everyday routines, understanding their importance to health and wellbeing.

Learning intentions / Success criteria

  • We are learning the differences between best before and use by dates
  • Understanding the importance of looking at the label for use by and best before dates
  • Understanding the difference between best before (taste) and use by (food safety)
  • Understanding 'use by' is related to bugs, pathogens


  • Food label images (and real examples from home) with best before and use by dates printable on sheets
  • Teacher resource sheet on best before and use by dates

Setting up

Food labels from home and FSS printable labels – teachers to fill in dates as directed – print off sheets, fill in dates and photocopy for the class

Children sort the labels by date:

  • Free sort
  • Sort by best before and use by


Discuss the differences between foods in each group from sorting exercise

  • Why foods have either best before or use by dates
  • What the implications are for food safety
  • Food waste – why you should plan your weekly meals depending on the use by/best before dates

Plan a week long menu based on the use by and best before dates using the foods in sheets 1 and 2. Think about:

  • Which foods should be eaten at which points in the week to provide safe food?
  • Pupils can design their own weekly menu template

Ordering by dates

  • Pupils place food labels in order of dates

Assessment Opportunities

DO – I can plan a weekly menu using best before and use by dates

SAY – I can explain the terms best before and use by

SAY – I can explain what happens to food past its best before or use by dates

DO – I can identify the best before and use by dates on food labels


  • Explains the different between use by and best before dates

Cross-Curricular links

Literacy – listening & talking

Maths – tallies

ICT – iPad / iMovie

Expressive arts - posters or play or iMovie or advertisement or song or news report



  • Introduce best before and use by dates as characters
  • Simplify dates / use days of week or visual calendar or simply refer to as ‘before’ or ‘after’
  • Highlight dates on labels and blank out other distracting information


  • At home activity
    – Note best before and use by dates on food labels at home
    – Go food shopping with parent or carer
    – Discuss how best before and use by dates are used when shopping
  • Explore best before and use by dates in context of food waste and food banks – long-life food
  • Class trip to a supermarket to understand best before and use by dates
  • Create a board game using best before and use by dates and different types of food
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