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 mins

CfE Experiences and Outcomes

  • HWB 1-33a - I am becoming aware of how cleanliness, hygiene and safety can affect health and wellbeing and I apply this knowledge in my everyday routines such as taking care of my teeth.

  • 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.

  • HWB 1-16a - I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible.

  • HWB 2-16a - I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible.

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.


  • Teacher's notes on food safety and food labelling.
  • 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.
  • Watch our video 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

Consider CfE Benchmarks, for example:

  • 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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