If you have any questions about the programs or materials below or would like to submit a
resource, email us.
Understanding Food Labels
Use by. Sell by. Best if used by.
Date labels are confusing and can lead to needlessly throwing away good food. With the exception of infant formula,
they pertain to product quality, not food safety. Learning the difference between "sell-by", "use-by" and "best-by"
dates is a great first step toward storing smart. Use this guide as a quick reference:
A sell-by date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the
date expires, but you can still store it at home for some time beyond that date as long as safe storage
procedures are followed.
A best if used-by (or before) date is recommended for the best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety
A use-by date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. This date has been
set by the product manufacturer.
Closed or coded dates are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
Protects donors from liability when donating to a non-profit organization.
Protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to
Standardizes donor liability exposure; donors and their legal counsel do not need to investigate liability laws
in 50 states.
Sets a floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. According
to the new law, gross negligence is defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at
the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person."
In addition, South Carolina law provides liability protection for food donors through S.C. Code of Laws §§ 15-74-10 et
seq. According to the law, "the donor, in good faith, of distressed food apparently fit for human
consumption, to a bona fide charitable or nonprofit organization or food bank or prepared and perishable food
program for free distribution, is not subject to criminal penalty or civil damages arising from the condition of the
food or the nature or condition of the land entered, unless an injury is caused by gross negligence, recklessness,
or intentional misconduct of the donor."