Use by date control and stock rotation

Many kitchens are already using some form of date/day labelling on all their food items in the kitchen, however here are some additional points from John Wood to ensure that you are really on top of this to reduce wastage.

Use by date control

It’s important to label food items to allow you and your teams to monitor when products have been made or opened and go out of date. There are a number of different ways of doing this. There is the option of:
  • Labels with Day by colour
  • Blank labels
Then you can choose from a number of date labelling systems:
  • Permanent labels
  • Removable labels
  • Dissolvable labels
There is no right or wrong ones to use, but obviously the dissolvable ones are easier to remove from containers and do not block sinks/dishwashers. Colour coded labels have a visual advantage when you have a number of items in one area. To save time, there is also the quick and easy way to label which is through date guns which can show date and time automatically onto the label for you. This is a little more expensive, but saves a lot of time. If you are not dating and labelling all of your food items you need to legally start doing this. Do not restrict this just to chilled items but also items that you freeze and when ambient products are opened.

Stock rotation

Most of the kitchens I have seen around the World have always struggled with stock rotation for a number of reasons:
  • Chefs take the freshest, nicest looking products from your chillers and store rooms.
  • The items have not been placed in the right place to ensure the older stock is at the front (as in supermarkets).
  • Correct training of all chefs/cooks is not being carried out to explain this process.
  • Store-room and chiller checks are not an integral part of daily checks or routines of the senior chefs.
On average, when correct procedures, processes and systems have been put in place I have seen up to a 10% decrease in stock wastage, which in most cases can result in £/$/€ 000’s savings per year.  


  • Be vigilant when receiving produce to check not only what is on the top of the box but also what is underneath as suppliers will mix it!
  • Check dated items when receiving orders.
  • Rotate products daily to ensure the oldest is used first.
  • Keep stock levels to a minimum, most suppliers will deliver 5-6 days a week.
  • Read our FREE guide to Food Waste by downloading it HERE

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