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Foods with a shelf life of less than two years must have a ‘best before’ or ‘use-by’ date. The ‘best before’ date refers to the quality of the food – food stored in the recommended way will remain of good quality until that date.

It may still be safe to eat certain foods after the ‘best before’ date, but they may have lost quality and some nutritional value.

Nutrition content claims make statements about certain nutrients or substances in a food, for example ‘high in calcium.’ For a manufacturer to make various claims, their products must meet various guidelines including: The ingredient list will specify the contents of a product.

However, if you are trying to avoid fat, sugar or salt, they may be added in many forms and scattered all over the ingredients list.

By contrast, foods that should not be consumed after a certain date for health and safety reasons must have a ‘use-by’ date and cannot be sold after that date.

You will find ‘use-by’ dates on perishables such as meat, fish and dairy products.

Food labels carry useful information to help you make good choices about food.

Common foods that may cause allergies include peanuts, other nuts, seafood, fish, milk, gluten, eggs, soybeans.

Some labels may also state ‘may contain’ because there is a possibility that traces of an allergen may be present in a food unintentionally, such as food processed on the same equipment as products that contain nuts.

‘Product of Australia’ means that most ingredients must come from Australia and the majority of the processing should happen here too.

A ‘Made in Australia’ statement may only mean that the food was ‘substantially transformed’ here and that a certain proportion of the production costs were incurred here.

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