Date marks give a guide to how long food can be kept before it begins to deteriorate or may become unsafe to eat. The two types of date marking are use by dates and best before dates. The food supplier is responsible for placing a use by or best before date on food. Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons should be marked with a use by date. Most foods have a best before date. You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date as they should be safe but they may have lost some quality. Foods that have a best before date can legally be sold after that date provided the food is fit for human consumption.
Product Dating FAQ
Do the dates on food packages puzzle you? What about those letters and numbers? If you are confused or puzzled— you are not alone. There is no uniform or universally accepted system for food dating in the U. However, Washington law does require that foods that spoil within 30 days, including milk, cottage cheese, and eggs carry a pull date by which they are to be sold.
This sell by date represents the last day to sell the product so you will have time to store and use it at home safely.
What Does the Food Code Require? You must date mark any food meeting all of the following: • Potentially Hazardous Food (PHF)/Time-. Temperature.
According to the U. More than 20 states require dating of certain foods, but other states do not require any food dating. With the exceptions of infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations. If an open date is shown on a product, both the month and day of the month and year for shelf-stable and frozen products must be displayed on the product packaging.
The date does not correspond to the date by which the product must be consumed to ensure food safety; rather, the date is indicated for product quality. Open dating is typically found on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. After an open date passes, food may not be at the best quality, but products should still be safe if handled properly and stored at proper temperatures. Foodborne bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness before or after the date on the package if foods are mishandled.
In the case of infant formula, if stored too long, it can separate and clog the nipple. Baby food stored for too long may lose nutrients. Food cans must display packing codes to enable tracking in the event of a recall. They also enable manufacturers and retailers to rotate their stock. They are not intended for consumers to interpret.
Food date and expiration labels
Low-acid canned goods keep their quality longer than high-acid ones. Credit: AP. How do you decipher date codes on canned food and, if you manage to decipher them, how long after the date is it safe to eat the food?
There is no uniform or universally accepted system for food dating in the U.S. However, Sometimes it is written in code, as in the second example above.
July 27, – Author: Joyce McGarry. These numbers can cause confusion, and often deciphering them can be like solving a mystery. The consumer can easily read an open date. Only manufacturers know the meaning of these dates. They probably confuse consumers the most. Joyce McGarry mcgarryj msu. The dates are not necessarily guides for food safety.
I don’t see an expiration date. How do I know if my product is expired?
Date code listings below One of the most frequently asked questions about canned food is its shelf life and “use-by” dates. The codes that are stamped on canned food are manufacturers’ codes that usually designate the date the product was packaged. The codes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and usually include coding for time and place of canning. Most manufacturers offer a toll-free number to call for questions about canned food expiration dates.
For a sampling of how to read product codes, See Below. Remember, the code stamped on the can is when it was packaged.
Code Dating Terminology: “Best if used by” – Manufacturers use this date to indicate the last date by which the highest quality of the particular product is.
One of the most frequently asked questions about canned food is its shelf life and “use-by” dates. The general rule of thumb is that canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. Proper food storage ensures that your food is safe, fresh and full of its naturally occurring nutrients. Use this guide to help you store food safely and decide what food to keep or toss.
Are all of the foods you have on hand at peak quality and safe to eat? The dates on the package will help you decide. This is the last day a food should be sold at the grocery store. Most foods will still be fresh and safe to eat for a week or so after the sell by date. Foods with sell-by dates : Cheese, milk, meat and yogurt. This is the last day a food should be eaten and may not be safe to eat after the date has passed.
Foods with expiration dates : Baby formula. Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system. Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year.
Types of Expiration Date Codes
A health-conscious consumer is one who reads food labels before making a purchase, but what do all those numbers mean? While it’s easy to figure out the basic stuff — like calories and nutritional content – there’s a lot of other information on food labels that can be helpful, especially numbers and dates stamped on the bottom of cereals, canned goods, packaged snacks and even fresh produce.
According to the Institute of Food Technologists , most U. There are two types of codes:.
Expiration dates can be hard to locate on a product and even more challenging to decipher. Currently, the United States does not have a regulated or standard system for coding expiration dates on food, except for those on baby food and infant formula. All other dates and codes are added voluntarily by manufacturers. There are two types of expiration date codes on products. The first type is open dating, which uses a standard time or calendar date. Use-by dates are intended for consumers and indicate when a product will start to deteriorate, while the latter two are for grocery stores to know how long to keep products displayed on the shelves.
Canned Food, Shelf Life
Food date labels are there to help consumers make informed and safe decisions about the products they are purchasing. Depending on what type of food you are buying, the date on the package can tell you when it should be eaten by, and when it should be sold by. Open dating calendar dates are normally found on the package of perishable foods such as meat, poultry and eggs. Closed or coded dates are likely to appear on shelf products such as cans and boxes of food.
Are canned and packaged foods on the shelves at the supermarkets marked with the date of processing? Is there a dating code used on boxed or cartoned.
Last Updated: August 26, References. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. This article has been viewed 78, times. Learn more Lots of food items, beauty products, and medications are thrown away every year because of misunderstood expiration dates. Learn the difference between an open-date code, which gives you a recommendation on how long a certain item will be good for, versus a closed code, which tells you when an item was actually manufactured.
Did You Know? This is part of the reason it can be so tricky to read these dates and understand how long your items will actually be good for. Every day at wikiHow, we work hard to give you access to instructions and information that will help you live a better life, whether it’s keeping you safer, healthier, or improving your well-being. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever.
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A Lesson in Food Product Dating
Information about dates on pre-packaged food is a valuable source of information for consumers. There are different kinds of date markings, depending on the product. The most common terms are “best-before” dates, “packaged on” dates, and expiration dates. Knowing what these terms mean will help you understand the labels, which in turn will help you make informed choices about the food you buy.
Federal regulations. Food much be labeled. Product. Keywords: code for dating? State health and provide to that date of parallel lines. Freezing food. Employee.
Neither is true: labeling decisions are made voluntarily by food companies and are meant to help consumers determine how fresh a food is, according to the USDA. Instead, use your senses: Spoilage bacteria will typically produce a noticeable change in odor, flavor or texture. You can help protect yourself from bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses , like E.
The only product with a firm use-by date is infant formula, Goodwin says. Otherwise, you can usually trust your gut over the package date. Freezing excess food, like meat and bread, is a great way to cut down on waste. Frozen food should stay safe indefinitely, but its quality may degrade over time. When it is time to defrost , Goodwin says the safest way to do so is by placing food in the refrigerator until it thaws, rather than leaving it out on the counter.
Date labelling on pre-packaged foods
We know it can be very confusing trying to interpret all the various date codes that are on the many different items we buy at the grocery store. Below is a quick overview on how we date our products, a list by product category, with the expected shelf life and below that an overview by one of the agencies that we are governed by example – CFIA. Foods that are likely to spoil should be properly stored, and they should be eaten as quickly as possible. Harmful micro-organisms that lead to foodborne illness can grow in foods, even if they do not appear to be spoiled.
“Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer. What do can codes mean? Cans must exhibit a packing code to enable tracking of the.
In the event we need to bring product back or trace an issue with the production, the code date is our main source of information. We want to make sure we have the most accurate shelf life while still maintaining and communicating the utmost attention to food safety. It is important to note that the United States does not have a uniform system of coding expiration dates on food products, according to the U. Department of Agriculture.
The federal government requires expiration dates only on baby foods and infant formula. Other dating on food products is voluntary, and this is one reason why manufacturers use different terms and why similar products from different manufacturers may have completely different variations for their own date qualifiers. In the end, consumers should always pay attention to the instructions on the package and use their best judgment about food products.
Another resource to verify the safety of a food item is to call the phone number listed on the package.