Food Date Labelling and the Consumer Knowledge

  • Anida Mahmood Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Siti Sarah Sulaiman Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Nor Akhmal Hasmin Universiti Teknologi MARA


The safety and quality aspects of food produced and sold to Malaysian consumers are governed by myriad legislation. At the forefront are Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985. The regulations fortify food safety and quality assurance by mandating food date labelling. Food date labelling, part of consumer empowerment strategies, enables buyers to decide whether to purchase or when to consume the purchased food. While food date labelling is lauded as a proven legal strategy to overcome information asymmetry, international literature identifies food date labelling as the leading cause of edible food waste. Lack of knowledge, misunderstanding and confusion on the meanings of 'expired by', 'use by', 'consume by' and 'best before' labels on food packaging has prompted consumers to dispose of food that is still edible and fit for consumption. Malaysia is not spared from the global food waste phenomenon as it was reported that 3,000 tonnes of edible food, enough to feed 10 million people, are discarded each day either at the point of sale or point of consumption. This paper aims to investigate consumer knowledge of food date labelling in Malaysia. An online nationwide survey using a convenience sampling technique was conducted in April 2021. A survey questionnaire that gauges consumer knowledge of food date labelling was constructed for the study. A total of 460 respondents representing B40, M40 and T20 households participated in the survey. The survey findings indicate that Malaysian consumers’ low knowledge of the meaning of the date formats marked on food packaging may lead to edible food waste.


Abdul Latiff, Z. A., Rezai, G., Mohamed, Z., and Amizi Ayob, M. 2015. Food labels’ impact assessment on consumer purchasing behaviour in Malaysia. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 22(2), 137-146.
Ahmad Kushairi. 2018. Food for thought. News Strait Times.
Ambak, R., Tupang, L., Hasim, M. H., Salleh, N. C, Zulkafly, N., Salleh, R., Ahmad, M. H. and Naidu, B. M. 2018. Who do not read and understand food label in Malaysia? Findings from a population study. Health Science Journal, 12(1).
Aschemann-Witzel, J., De Hooge, I., Amani, P., Bech-Larsen, T., & Oostindjer, M. 2015. Consumer-related food waste: Causes and potential for action. Sustainability, 7(6), 6457-6477.
Beatty. 2018. Label date marks: Quality or food safety?
Chu, W., Williams, H., Verghese, K., Wever, R., and Glad, W. 2020. Tensions and opportunities: An activity theory perspective on date and storage label design through a literature review and Co-creation sessions. Sustainability, 12(3), 1162.
European Commission. 2018. Market study on date marking and other information provided on food labels and food waste prevention.
European Union. (2018). E.U. Action to promote better understanding and use of date marking.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2016. Handbook on food labelling to protect consumers.
Kavanaugh, M., and Quinlan, J. J. 2020. Consumer knowledge and behaviors regarding food date labels and food waste. Food Control, 115, 107285.
Kranert, M., et al. 2012. Determination of discarded food and proposals for minimization of food wastage in germany. Federal German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
Milne, R. 2012. Arbiters of waste: Date labels, the consumer and knowing good, safe food. The Sociological Review, 60(2_suppl), 84- 101. 954x.12039
Muhammad Iqram bin Zulkupri, Anida Mahmood, Zinatul Ashiqin Zainol & Nor Akhmal Hasmin. 2022. Consumer related theories and the right to informed choice for consumer in nano food consumption. UUM Journal of Legal Studies, 13(1), 199–220.
Neff, R. A., Spiker, M., Rice, C., Schklair, A., Greenberg, S., and Leib, E. B. 2019. Misunderstood food date labels and reported food discards: A survey of U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors. Waste Management, 86, 123-132.
Nur Imani Abdullah. 2016. Impact of food wastage. The Star.
Nwadike. 2016. How do food manufacturers pick those dates on their product packaging – and what do they mean? A.P. News.
Patra, D., Leisnham, P. T., Tanui, C. K., and Pradhan, A. K. 2020. Evaluation of global research trends in the area of food waste due to date labeling using a scientometrics approach. Food Control, 115, 107307.
Sangeetha, G, S., Vijayalakshmi, M, S., & Huang, L. 2019. Role of smart sensors in minimizing food deficit by prediction of shelf-life in agricultural supply chain. In Principles of Internet of things (IoT) ecosystem: Insight paradigm (pp. 153-175). Springer Nature.
Sundaram, J.K, Gen, T.Z., & Jarud, R.K. 2019. Achieving food security for all malaysians. Khazanah Research Institute.
Tajurahim, N. N., Abu Bakar, E., Md Jusoh, Z., Ahmad, S., and Muhammad Arif, A. M. 2020. The effect of intensity of consumer education, self‐efficacy, personality traits and social media on consumer empowerment. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 44(6), 511-520.
TNS European Behaviour Studies Consortium. 2014. Study on the impact of food information on consumers’ decision making (final report).
Toma, L., Costa Font, M., and Thompson, B. 2017. Impact of consumers’ understanding of date labelling on food waste behaviour. Operational Research, 20(2), 543-560.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 2019. How to cut food waste and maintain food safety.
Vittuari, M., Azzurro, P., Gaiani, S., Gheoldus, M., Burgos, S., Aramyan, L., Valeeva, N., Rogers, D., Östergren, K., Timmermans, T., and Bos-Brouwers, H. 2016. Recommendations and guidelines for a common European food waste policy framework. FUSIONS.
Waste and Resources Action Programme. (2017). Labeling guidance: Best practice on food date labelling and storage advice. drink/actions/date- labelling
Wilson, N. L., Miao, R., & Weis, C. 2018. Seeing is not believing: Perceptions of date labels over food and attributes. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 24(5), 611-631.
Zielińska, D., Bilska, B., Marciniak-Łukasiak, K., Łepecka, A., Trząskowska, M., Neffe- Skocińska, K., Tomaszewska, M., Szydłowska, A., & Kołożyn-Krajewska, D. 2020. Consumer understanding of the date of minimum durability of food in association with quality evaluation of food products after expiration. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5), 1632.
How to Cite
MAHMOOD, Anida; SULAIMAN, Siti Sarah; HASMIN, Nor Akhmal. Food Date Labelling and the Consumer Knowledge. Jurnal Intelek, [S.l.], v. 18, n. 1, p. 81-91, jan. 2023. ISSN 2231-7716. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 june 2024. doi: