There are certain requirements for the labels that must be put on a ready-to-eat food container. These include: The best before date, the day or date by which the food must be consumed, and the temperature control. Listed below are the requirements that must be adhered to. Listed below are the steps to follow when preparing a label for a ready-to-eat food container.


The Food Code requires that all retail food facilities comply with the requirement to date-mark perishable foods. This includes supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and eldercare facilities, and any other facility that sells food directly to consumers. Under these regulations, potentially hazardous foods must be date-marked on the container for a period of at least 24 hours. Date-marking regulations also apply to prepackaged foods that have been prepared at a food processing facility and opened in a foodservice facility.

The date must be legible and easily readable. The date must also be indelible and easily visible. Many prepacked foods for human consumption must also carry batch or lot-marking. Batch-marking is necessary to ensure maximum traceability and recall efficiency. If the batch and lot markings are difficult to distinguish, the batch number may be prefixed with the letter ‘L’. However, the date must be clearly legible and indelible in order to be read by consumers.

Best before date

A best before date on a ready to eat food container tells you when the product is still fresh. The date can vary depending on storage and handling. For example, if you buy a candy bar that has a three-year best before date, it might no longer have its normal taste, or it might have a strange texture or flavor. The best before date is for safety and quality assurance purposes. If you buy a tin of food with a three-year best-before date, the tin or bag will still be safe for consumption.

A food’s nutritional value may also be compromised after the best-before date. Milk and orange juice may no longer contain Vitamin C or riboflavin, for example, if you buy them after this date. Other foods may not taste as good as they did when they were first packaged. In addition, if you’re storing a food product in a closed package, it might also start to lose its texture and flavour after a certain period of time. This is why it’s so important to store it properly.

Day or date by which the food shall be consumed

Licensed foodservice establishments prepare and market packaged foods. These items are governed by laws that mandate a specific date or number of days by which they must be marketed and consumed. Some of these items may include salads, deli meats, fresh salsa, and custard-based desserts. Some are even perishable, such as leftovers. Listed below are some examples of RTE foods:

Temperature control

The 2 hour/4 hour guide for temperature control on ready-to-eat food containers (TCS) provides guidelines for the safe holding temperature and handling of potentially hazardous foods. It applies to all stages of the life of the food, from preparation to cooling and disposal. When temperatures are not in compliance, the TCS food should be discarded. However, some TCS foods are considered safe for up to four hours without temperature control.

A TCS food container that does not have temperature control must be marked with the date of preparation, sale, and throwaway. The date should be on the label, indicating whether it should be consumed or discarded after 24 hours. If the TCS food container is used for long-term storage, the date must be listed as well. TCS food containers should be stored at a temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Listeria bacteria

Since the CDC’s recommendations were first published in 1996, the incidence of Listeriosis has decreased steadily in the United States. Despite the increased awareness of the disease, many consumers are unaware of the food-borne listeria bacteria. The bacteria can grow in any environment and is often not apparent. Food safety is therefore a concern to prevent illness. This fact sheet will answer questions that consumers have about these bacteria and the proper ways to mark containers.

To prevent Listeria monocytogenes contamination, retailers should implement a control program. Proper sanitation helps eliminate Listeria monocytogenes from equipment and food-contact surfaces. Proper sanitation practices include following strict personal hygiene policies and applying sanitizers at the right concentrations and application times. Proper sanitation prevents pathogen transfer from one person to another. Proper cleaning procedures also include regular rinsing.