Product Dating FAQ
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. A “best-before” date, also known as a durable life date, tells you when the durable life period of a prepackaged food ends. Durable life means the anticipated amount of time that an unopened food product, when stored under appropriate conditions, will retain its:. This information is usually found on the label with the words “best before” and ” meilleur avant “. The best-before date indicates to consumers that if the product has been properly handled stored under conditions appropriate to that product , the unopened product should be of high quality until the specified date.
Confused By Expiration Dates? You’re Not Alone. Here’s What They Really Mean
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.
a purchase or safety date. “Open Dating” (use of a calendar date as opposed to a code) on a food product is a date stamped on a product’s package to help the.
Grocery manufacturers and retailers have joined together to streamline and standardize the wording accompanying the date labels on packages to offer greater clarity regarding the quality and safety of products. This new industry-wide effort is launched by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute as part of the Trading Partner Alliance TPA will help reduce consumer confusion over dates on the product label and potentially help consumers avoid unnecessary food waste.
Website design by Matrix Group International, Inc. Sign up. Product Code Dating Grocery manufacturers and retailers have joined together to streamline and standardize the wording accompanying the date labels on packages to offer greater clarity regarding the quality and safety of products. A New Product Label Vocabulary. For example, the quality of the product taste or texture may have diminished slightly or it may not have the full vitamin content indicated on the package.
This date label is for perishable products with potential safety implications or material degradation of critical performance, such as nutrition. Contact David. View the Policy Statement. Leadership This new industry-wide effort is launched by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute as part of the Trading Partner Alliance TPA will help reduce consumer confusion over dates on the product label and potentially help consumers avoid unnecessary food waste.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Depending on which food you are buying, the date on the package could be a recommendation on when it should be sold by or when it should be eaten by. Since confusion surrounding a date could mean throwing out perfectly good food, here are some tips about food package dates and storage for some common foods on your shopping list.
Open dating use of a calendar date is found primarily on the package of perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
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.
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. The general rule of thumb is that canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. Many canned products now have a “for best quality use by” date stamped on the top or bottom of the can. Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing.
A Lesson in Food Product Dating
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.
Non-Food or General Merchandise. Shall print a Closed Date Code: A code that consists of a series of letters and/or numbers applied by.
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 foods? These are questions homemakers are asking. Most packaged canned, boxed, cartoned foods are produced in tremendous quantities by the food industry and marked with codes for purposes of identification.
It is most desirable that all containers of one batch be identified to prevent mixup during warehouse storage, transportation, and marketing. If any defect in processing or formulation were to occur, it could then be isolated. With raw fruits and vegetables, the raw product quality may vary with climate and other conditions.
One supermarket chain indicated recently that it would reveal what its codes were. How would understanding the code be helpful to the consumer? Knowing the code would not tell the whole story. But other vital information is revealed by the food in the package. The homemaker should be aware of such points as these: 1 Does the food have a normal, inviting color? The first three questions are best answered by the ones who prepare and eat the food, and are not necessarily related to nor often much affected by the date of packaging.
The nutritional value of the food is not readily evident it may be listed on the label , but it is generally related to the quality of the color, flavor, and texture.
Dating profile code words
Before you get in your car, you toss one of those bags in the garbage. Sound ridiculous? Consumer uncertainty about the meaning of the dates that appear on the labels of packaged foods is believed to contribute to about 20 percent of food waste in the home. Studies have shown that this best conveys to consumers that these products do not have to be discarded after the date if they are stored properly. Department of Agriculture involves educating consumers on ways to reduce food loss and waste, and how to do it safely without risking illness from consuming spoiled food.
Manufacturers generally apply date labels at their own discretion and for a variety of reasons.
Product category, with the expected shelf life. Date Labelling on Pre-packaged Foods (source CFIA). Information about dates on pre-packaged food is a.
Is there a way to tell from the egg carton how old the eggs are? Are there some guidelines for how long eggs are safe to eat? According to the U. Each carton of USDA graded eggs must show the date of packaging, the processing plant number, and may include an expiration date. USDA assures that all labeling and claims made on the carton are truthful and accurate. To determine freshness, a Julian date or pack-date calendar can be used. This three-digit code indicates the date of packaging, starting with January 1 as and ending with December 31 as
Dating Codes and Food Storage
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?
“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.
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.
In theory, shelf-stable foods like pasta, snack foods, canned goods, baking products and jerky really do last indefinitely, Goodwin says.
Deciphering date codes on canned goods
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.
Open Dating uses a calendar date as opposed to a code on a food product. These codes typically appear on shelf stable products such as canned and boxed.
If you have diarrhea after eating eggs, you may be wondering if your eggs are bad. Although the expiration date code on your carton of eggs and other packaged foods may provide some clues, these dates are more about food quality than food safety. When you’re looking through your kitchen cupboard for a can of unsweetened cocoa so you can make chocolate zucchini muffins or some other treat, you may come across a few items you forgot about.
When you look at the expiration date codes on the back, you may be surprised and possibly embarrassed to learn that the items in your cupboard expired over a year ago. Or did they? All other foods labeled with “best-by” or “use-by” dates are determined by the manufacturer and not required by law. The dating of food is voluntary and not indicative of whether the food is safe to eat or not.
The expiration dates on food are more about quality. According to the USDA FSIS, the dates on your bread bag, milk jug and cereal box determine how long these items will taste like you expect them to taste, not whether they’re responsible for your tummy troubles. You’re not the only one with an expired can of peas in the cupboard who wondered whether to cook it or toss it. According to the American Heart Association AHA , foods that expire during home storage should be safe as long as you stored them properly.