Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@. Skimlinks & other affiliated links are turned on

    • Zoee
    • By Zoee 30th Jul 11, 10:32 AM
    • 38Posts
    • 27Thanks
    0 WOW
    Sold out of date food. What is the law on
    • #1
    • 30th Jul 11, 10:32 AM
    0 WOW
    Sold out of date food. What is the law on 30th Jul 11 at 10:32 AM
    the shop's duty to me as a customer?

    One of the big high street stores admitted selling me out of date peanuts (Mar 2011 on the packet) two days ago.

    Their customer care person said their policy is to refund cost of item and give an in date replacement of the item - which they did.

    The incident has left me wondering what is a store's legal obligation in the UK to a customer for selling out of date food?

    I didn't get food poisoning I know but was wondering would they have reacted differently if I had?


    was it because I wasn't from the local Environmental Health team was the reason why there wasn't more dialogue?

    To me it was a case of: ah well this happens all the time Just shut up and go away!

    Was I wrong to expect more (Even though not too sure what more is)

    I add, I'm not looking to sue the store or anything and will shop there again. It's just that leaving the store, I felt like they wanted to sweep my out of date query under the carpet


    PS If this issue has already been discussed on this forum, can someone point me to the thread? Thanks
Page 1
  • JayJay14
    • #2
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:11 PM
    • #2
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:11 PM
    If a product has a 'best before' date, then they can be sold after that date - the store must inform the buyer that they are buying out of date food. If food has been sold by mistake (or bad stock management) then the store will have it's own policy - in your case refund and replacement. They should also send a message to the relevant manager to investigate why it happened. I think most of the big supermarkets do not normally sell OOD foods, they end up with specialist sellers like Approved Food.

    'Sell by' dates are different, they usually are perishable foods such as yogurts or chilled ready meals, things like that. These cannot by law be sold past that date which is why so much ends up in the whoopies fridge. It is also why there is so much wasted as they cannot even pass it on to shelters or the homeless (the reasoning is sound, don't want to poison anyone however poor).

    The law on these however may change in the near future as the goverment is looking into dates - no doubt to make it even more complicated and confusing
    • Coopdivi
    • By Coopdivi 30th Jul 11, 1:36 PM
    • 3,183 Posts
    • 2,846 Thanks
    • #3
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:36 PM
    • #3
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:36 PM
    Bracknell Forest Council have a page on their website which explains the use of best before and use by dates very well.

    Your peanuts would have had a 'best before' date on them so the supermarket took the correct form of action.
    • geordie joe
    • By geordie joe 30th Jul 11, 1:55 PM
    • 8,399 Posts
    • 8,454 Thanks
    geordie joe
    • #4
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:55 PM
    • #4
    • 30th Jul 11, 1:55 PM
    'Sell by' dates are different, they usually are perishable foods such as yogurts or chilled ready meals, things like that. These cannot by law be sold past that date
    Originally posted by JayJay14
    Are you sure? I thought "Sell by" dates were an internal store date, used for stock control, and they do not come under any law.

    Think about it, you could buy an item with a "Sell by" date of today, then stick it in your fridge for 27 years and it would be ok because it was sold before it's "Sell by" date expired.

    Sell by dates are there to tell the shop staff that the item needs to be gone before that date to make room for new stock. They have nothing to do with how long the item will last. (Apart from in the case of eggs, eggs is different).
    Last edited by geordie joe; 30-07-2011 at 1:59 PM.
  • archived user
    • #5
    • 30th Jul 11, 2:08 PM
    • #5
    • 30th Jul 11, 2:08 PM
    Best before - advice that the quality may deteriorate after this date but no offence committed if items sold beyond this date
    Use by - it is a criminal offence to sell an item beyond its Use By date
    Sell By - Stock control purposes only. No offence of selling items beyond their sell by date
    • Zoee
    • By Zoee 12th Aug 11, 6:06 PM
    • 38 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    • #6
    • 12th Aug 11, 6:06 PM
    Thanks for you replies
    • #6
    • 12th Aug 11, 6:06 PM

    @ JayJay14

    Thanks for your reply

    Very, very informative and grateful that you've let me and others know rather than having to wade through websites or books on my own to find out what you've summarised nicely

    Not looking forward to the Law change.

    If get a few lines of summary added to existing legislation, all good

    If not, can I take any more rules and regulations since the change of Government? [GROAN] Have to wait and see suppose!


    @ Coopdivi
    Thanks for replying and that website link

    Looking at your recommended site, I liked the way they summarised the key points into a PDF for downloading as a remindar

    Yes because the peanuts had the best before date is the reason for the refund. Surprised was on shelf that long though must say


    @geordie joe
    Had to smile whilst reading your stick an item into my fridge for 27 years Was thinking it would be a good experiment to see how the peanuts would look and taste after been fridge for that length of time.

    I find it interesting though that prior to the introduction of "sell by dates" and "best before dates" items like fruit especially etc didn't need any labelling Our noses and taste buds certainly didn't need to see a sell by date or best before date on anything that wasn't processed food once it had passed a certain date Nature let us judge for ourselves

    Must say, I'm glad for the introduction of date labelling, I wouldn't have got my FREE item otherwise

    Thanks for reading and replying


    @ !!!!!!!

    Your summary in two sentences sums up and answered this post question/vent

    Thank you

    Last edited by Zoee; 12-08-2011 at 6:08 PM.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

781Posts Today

6,811Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • It's the start of mini MSE's half term. In order to be the best daddy possible, Im stopping work and going off line?

  • RT @shellsince1982: @MartinSLewis thanx to your email I have just saved myself £222 by taking a SIM only deal for £7.50 a month and keeping?

  • Today's Friday twitter poll: An important question, building on yesterday's important discussions: Which is the best bit of the pizza...

  • Follow Martin