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Stock Rotation Introduction

Stock Rotation Introduction.

The correct storage and stock rotation of food is fundamental to the hygienic and profitable operation of any food business. Failure to ensure such good practices can result in problems of unfit or spoiled food and also considerable reduction in the shelf life of products.

Food Labelling Legislation requires that the shelf life of most foods be clearly indicated. This has to be either a Best Before or for highly microbiologically perishable foods a Use By date. It is an offence to sell food after its use by date.

Stock rotation applies to all food types and failure to rotate stock can allow the product to become unmarketable due to staleness or changes in texture or colour. More serious problems may be caused by mould growth, infestations by insects, rancidity, slime and off odours. Stock which is left undisturbed for any period will encourage infestations.

Stock rotation is particularly important for high risk foods where microbiological growth can readily occur.

Legal requirement
Chapter IX 3

All food which is handled, stored, packaged, displayed and transported, shall be protected against any contamination likely to render the food unfit for human consumption, injurious to health or contaminated in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect it to be consumed in that state.

Guide to compliance

Most foodstuffs are marked with an indication of the period for which they are expected to remain safe and wholesome when kept in specified conditions. For high risk foods the shelf life is a major factor in controlling the safety of the product and avoiding the hazard of microbiological growth which could, over time, render the food unfit or injurious to health. Control of shelf life (stock rotation) is therefore an important protection against contamination.

When stock deliveries arrive sample date codes must be checked to ensure that product received is in code and has sufficient life to enable it to be sold within its life. This is particularly important for products marked with a “use by” date. For loose products such as meat or items displayed on a delicatessen counter, products that do not carry a date code, and those manufactured in store or which are exempt from marking, a system is required to ensure products are rotated on a "first in, first out" basis.
Once outer casings/wrappings have been removed and products opened, their original code life may be shortened.

The form of date marking used depends upon the expected life of the product. This is set out in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 and summarised below.

Expected Shelf Life

Highly perishable and likely to constitute an immediate danger to health (short life products).

3 months or less
3 to 18 months
More than 18 months

USE BY

Date Marking Allowable

........... Day ........... Month ........... or ........... Day ........... Month ........... Year

BEST BEFORE

........... Day ........... Month ........... or ........... Day ........... Month ........... Year

BEST BEFORE BEST BEFORE BEST BEFORE

........... Day ........... Month ........... Year or END ........... Month ........... Year or END ........... Year

........... Day ........... Month ........... Year or BEST BEFORE

BEST BEFORE END ........... Month ........... Year

NB: It is an offence to alter or remove a “use by” date mark if you are not yourself the person who originally applied the date mark, or do not have their written permission to make such a change.

The following foods are exempt from date marking:

Fresh fruit and vegetables which have not been peeled or cut into pieces. This includes potatoes but not sprouting seeds, legumes, bean sprouts or similar products; wine, alcoholic drinks (10% or more alcoholic strength); soft drinks (greater than 5 litres for catering premises); vinegar, salt, sugar, chewing gum; flour confectionery and bread if it is intended to be consumed within 24 hours of preparation; edible ices in individual portions.

Those foods prepared on the retail premises for direct sale.

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