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Except for infant formula, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations.
However, if a calendar date is used, it must express both the month and day of the month (and the year, in the case of shelf-stable and frozen products).
If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as “sell-by” or “use before.” There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States.
Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has some type of open date and other areas where almost no food is dated.
Have you ever gone into the kitchen to cook a meal – take something out of the refrigerator or cabinet and just stand there… Here is some background information which answers these and other questions about product dating.
” I came across this Fact Sheet from the USDA (via Consumer Bell) and thought it might be a great resource of information about food product dating.
Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always refer to home storage and use after purchase.
“Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates.
Open dating is found primarily on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
“Closed” or “coded” dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.
But even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below.