Talk:Shelf life

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addition of water activity[edit]

should we include some reference to "water activity"? from a food science perspective, water activity is essential to understanding shelf life.(Berkleyw 00:00, 2 October 2007 (UTC))

close but not identical meaning of terms[edit]

It seems to me that "shelf life", "expiration date", and "expiry" have become comingled, and they should not have been. They are very different things.

shelf life : The length of time a product may be stored without becoming unsuitable for use or consumption.

expiration date: The date past which a product, such as food or medicine, must be sold or removed from availability. Sometimes these dates are determined by law. (In the United States, in the state of California, eggs may only be sold while less than 30 days old.) Generally, the product is guaranteed by the manufacturer or vendor to be suitable for use on or before this date. Most products are still suitable and usable beyond this date. As manufacturers have become aware of this fact, this date is often labelled the "Sell by" date. If the product was unusable beyond this date, it would mean that the entire product would have to be consumed on the date of purchase, which is generally not the case. Therefore the "shelf-life" is generally longer, and sometimes much longer, than the pre-printed "expiration date". (Some have even speculated that the dates supplied by the manufacturer are far too conservative, and are meant to stimulate replacement purchases.)

expiry: The ending or expiration of a contract or agreement, form but could also be driven by an action or result.

The shelf life of my grandmother's canned piccalilli can be measured in decades. There is no expiration date, but if there were, I'd put it at a year, probably. It would be edible for decades, but would be most delicious if consumed within a year or two. And the contract she entered into with the local market to provide 4 cases each season had an expiry date of 12 months from the date of signing.

The word "expiry" has a more refined and specific meaning than simply being an "expiration date". It has the flavor of a contract behind it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jerel2u (talkcontribs) April 2006.

The above definitions are not all correct. The actual OED definition of shelf life is "The length of time for which an item remains usable, fit for consumption, or saleable", where saleable means "Fit or able to be sold".
That incorrect definition given by Jerel2u was introduced with this edit, which replaced a correct definition with an incorrect one. In other words, shelf life does not seem to have a single unambiguous definition - where it refers to whether something is saleable, it likely does NOT refer to whether it is usable or not! The article needs work in order to be accurate. I've added a couple {{FV}}'s to the article where merited. --Elvey(tc) 07:53, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

Proposed merge[edit]

Best buy is a phrase used in some places to indicate something related to shelf life (see comment above for some close parsing indeed). As such, it is not the higher rubric, shelf life is, and a merger is not indicated. Oppose merger proposal. ww 21:02, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

  • I agree that Shelf life should be the article name. Best before and Freshness date are terms which refer to Shelf life. The Best before article should be brought to Shelf life, not the other way round. SilkTork 11:12, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Talk:Best before[edit]

Freshness dates are also used on milk and various other perishable foods. This article is a bit too beer-specific at present.

That's kind of the point, I thought there was enough information on freshness dating that it warranted its own article. There's already info on best before dates. Would you rather it be at Freshness date (beer)? For other foods the terms "best before" or "expiration date" are often used, "freshness date" and the redirects I've made such as "Born-On date" are more beer-centric. Many people see this as an advertising gimmick by the beer companies so I thought we should provide some information on the subject.
And please sign your comments with four tilde's (~~~~). Dismas 18:19, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I do normally sign my comments, not sure how I forgot. I wasn't aware of the articles on best before dates. I think the best thing would be to merge the two articles, but failing that, each should have a link to the other, IMO. DES (talk) 18:27, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I have now added such cross-links. DES (talk) 18:31, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
Like I said, I think there's enough info for its own article. I found a bit more info on the net so I hope to expand it a little this coming weekend maybe... if I get the time. Dismas 18:36, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Date codes section[edit]

I have removed this entire section. All beer in Europe has by law to have a best before date. To include in this section every single beer brand would be an endless and frankly pointless task. SilkTork 13:05, 1 July 2006 (UTC)


Freshness date is the same as Best before date. The wording Freshness date or Born on, or some other such makes no difference to the essential nature of what the words are saying. SilkTork 13:07, 1 July 2006 (UTC)


Text from Freshness date merged with Best before and edited. SilkTork 12:48, 3 July 2006 (UTC)


Why don't they write those things in a font you can actually read? Not all run together with 16 other kinds of factory-specific code...

misplaced sentence?[edit]

this sentence:

Foods that have a best before date are usually safe to eat after the date has passed, although they are likely to have deteriorated either in flavour, texture, appearance or nutrition.

is under Use by.

shouldn't it be under Best before?

gba 20:53, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Beer freshness example[edit]

This seems to be about the worst example that could be used for this article. The "freshness date" is not a legal requirement, and beer has a relatively long shelf life in comparison to dairy products. I would suggest a new example using, say, milk, which carries a mandatory use by date. DWaterson (talk) 18:13, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Not all shelf life dates are legally required. Milk is legally required because it goes bad very quickly. I suspect either is a reasonable example, with the provision that the various beer freshness dates, being used largely as marketing purposes are more confusing than are dairy dates.
Go ahead, DW, be bold. ww (talk) 03:50, 22 June 2008 (UTC)


Whats the normal shelf life for chocalate bars, and other food stuffs? I think a chart would be good to include on the article with shelf life of certain products...Refreshments (talk) 17:52, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

There's a {{PD-USGov}} chart by the USDA at the reference name="USDA-FAQ" that I just added/updated in the article. --Elvey(tc) 19:20, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Info on food expiry date.....[edit]

-- (talk) 10:34, 14 June 2010 (UTC)


It would be great to include some information about the history of labels with expiry date. Who and when first proposed that such information be printed on products? Was it in the 20th cent.? Or before? How did the consumers know, before the "expiry dates" were introduced, whether a medicine, e.g., they bought was still safe to use or not? It would be cool if someone put this info here... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

food storage optimum temperature[edit]

"Optimum temperature range for perishable food storage is 3 to 5 °C (37 to 41 °F)."

It seems that for most food the ideal optimum storage temperature would be just above freezing, about 1C, 33F. Is this true? Where can one find detailed facts, tables and graphs of storage time as a function of temperature for various foods? What temperatures are used for ideal commercial storage of various foods?- (talk) 14:28, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Nope. The USDA says: "Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to freezing temperatures, or temperatures above 90 °F (32.2° C)." and "foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely". I just added that info to the article, with sources. :There's a {{PD-USGov}} table by the USDA at the reference name="USDA-FAQ" that I just added/updated in the article. Feel free to incorporate the table itself into the article. --Elvey(tc) 19:20, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Food waste by Last Week Tonight's John Oliver[edit]

Last Week Tonight's John Oliver says that two easy legal changes -- a tax credit for certain companies and sensibly regulating food "use-by" and "sell-by" dates -- would make a significant difference. (According to Public Citizen]'s Brian Wolfman here. Lots more coverage elsewhere. I'm a bit surprised the piece has brought no activity here.

--Elvey(tc) 18:50, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

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Consumer perception of expiration dates of food[edit]

I thought these sources covered a perspective which is not currently represented in this article.

  • Tsiros, Michael; Heilman, Carrie M. (April 2005). "The Effect of Expiration Dates and Perceived Risk on Purchasing Behavior in Grocery Store Perishable Categories". Journal of Marketing. 69 (2): 114–129. doi:10.1509/jmkg. 
  • Theotokis, Aristeidis; Pramatari, Katerina; Tsiros, Michael (March 2012). "Effects of Expiration Date-Based Pricing on Brand Image Perceptions". Journal of Retailing. 88 (1): 72–87. doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2011.06.003. 

Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:09, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

Requested move 6 July 2017[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not moved. Consensus is against moving. (non-admin closure) Natg 19 (talk) 05:08, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Shelf lifeProduct expiration – "Product expiration" is a similar, more general concept. There are several distinct concepts about the lives of products, including "shelf life", "product expiration", "expiration date", and "product freshness". I compiled a list of existing Wikipedia articles at Category:Product expiration to think about what articles go in this family. I included a range of concepts in that category, including several articles about food decay, some articles about other physical products ceasing to work because of age, and also some products which cease to work after a certain date for other reasons. I want for Wikipedia to be able to have both broad coverage of the general idea of product end of life, and also for there to be opportunities for anyone to develop articles about the end of life for specific products. I started thinking about this more when I established the drug expiration article. In looking at this article, I imagined that if it were named "product expiration", then it could be the top-level concept for navigating to whatever subtopics exist. What do others think? Does anyone have other ideas for the name of the concept describing a product's end of life, or how Wikipedia should address this concept? Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:26, 6 July 2017 (UTC) --Relisting.  — Amakuru (talk) 12:17, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

  • The term "Shelf Life" is well established in the literature and should remain the name of this article. Pkgx (talk) 20:53, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
@Pkgx: What do you think about the suggest below to create new Wikipedia articles for "expiry date" and "production date"? Also, how would you feel about a new Wikipedia article titled "product expiration"? I think that all of these terms are established in the literature and meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines. I am just not sure what goes where. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:23, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: We have a draft underway at Draft:Expiration date, which, when more fully developed, will tease out this distinction. It will be moved to mainspace as soon as the redirect currently sitting at Expiration date can be deleted to make way. Cheers! bd2412 T 02:47, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • This article covers Shelf Life which is, or should be, the same as the expiration date. Of course there are some differences in reality. The date stamped on the package of food or drugs is a matter of regulation in each country. In the US, the FDA and the USDA have authority; other regions or countries have their similar regulators. Trying to separate Shelf Life and expiration date into different Wikipedia articles is not productive. This is clearly an attempted Content Fork WP:REDUNDANTFORK. There would be heavy duplication of effort, probably resulting in a future merger. We should not do this. Pkgx (talk) 13:41, 8 July 2017 (UTC)

  • The terms Shelf life and Expiry Date are similar but not the same. A product can have a shelf-life of 90 days but it can expire next week if it was produced 83 days ago. Rather than moving the page I propose to complete the subject by adding/linking pages on Expiry Date and Production Date. (talk) 08:42, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Are you proposing that there should be three separate Wikipedia articles, "Shelf life", "Expiry date", and "Production date"? Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:23, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
I support this plan. More comment below Legacypac (talk) 13:43, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Do nothing. Do not move the draft NOTDICT violation to mainspace. "Product expiration" is jarring, technical but not commonly used, and is best covered under the commonly used, broadly used, "shelf life". --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:56, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose Draft:Expiration date is a distinctly different concept than shelf life as explained in the Draft. In Canada [1] for example Expiration date is a legal requirement on certain products, while shelf life is a suggestion for packaged goods made by the manufacturer. Items like car seats and credit cards have clear expiration dates but the term "shelf life" is meaningless. Legacypac (talk) 13:40, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Distinct concepts; expiry date is a regulatory matter; shelf-life is a fact about when a product goes bad. There are similar related concepts, like planned obsolescence (making a product go bad by an approximate date), etc. Use article text to distinguish them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:33, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose: the two terms are quite different. —MRD2014 02:32, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose: 'shelf life' is used to mean other things (such as 'it is no longer available'). Plenty of people will never have heard of 'product expiration'. Do not do things which will confuse. –Sb2001 talk page 14:21, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.