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Labelling foodstuffs with best before date

09/02/2014
 
Question: (case description)
The wrapping of a foodstuff designed for a consumer (in this specific case it is a vegetable oil bottle) includes following statement:
“Best before until the date stated on the bottle-neck.”
Two different dates are provided on the bottle-neck: “17 March 2007” and “i KA 17/03/08” and the wrapping of the foodstuff does not provide explanatory information regarding which of the stated dates represents the best before date.  
Is the method used for indicating the best before date of the foodstuff correct?
Answer:
The method used for indicating the best before date on the vegetable oil wrapping is not comprehensible for a consumer. The above described labelling is therefore capable to mislead the consumer, from 13 December 2014 this shall be considered misleading in accordance with the Regulation No. 1169/2011. 
State of art until 12 December 2014
The method that should be used for indicating best before date and use by date is stipulated by Section 6 of the Decree No. 113/2005 Coll., on the method of labelling foodstuffs and tobacco products. In accordance with Section 6 (1) of this Decree, the best before date is indicated by the words "Best before by ...", with indication of the day, calendar month and year of expiry of this period in the given order. In accordance with Section 6 (6) of the Decree, if the words "Best before..." are not followed by a date, it must be indicated here, where the date is provided on the wrapping.
The product wrapping provides information that the best before date is given on the bottle-neck, however, this place includes two dates and it is not clear which of these dates is the best before date. This represents a case of misleading a consumer in accordance with Article 16 of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002, as amended. 
State of art from 13 December 2014
Majority of the provisions of the Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on providing information on foodstuffs to consumers shall enter into force on 13 December 2014. This Regulation, in Article 24, regulates the best before date, expiry date and freezing date. This Regulation shall be directly applicable from 13 December 2014 in all Member States and it shall supersede the provision of Section 6 of the Decree No. 113/2005 Coll., on the method of labelling foodstuffs and tobacco products.
The Regulation No. 1169/2011 is specific in relation to the Regulation No. 178/2002, for this reason, it shall have application precedence in the subject matter from the date it enters into force. The above described labelling must be considered "misleading" in accordance with Article 7 (1) (a) of this Regulation, according to which information on foodstuffs may not be misleading, in particular regarding the characteristics of a foodstuff and in particular regarding its nature, identity, qualities, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenience, method of production or obtaining.