“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 store determine how long to display the product for sale.It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality. After the date passes, while not of best quality, the product should still be safe if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below for the recommended storage times listed on the chart (see below). If product has a “sell-by” date or no date, cook or freeze the product by the times on the chart below. Ever wonder what the difference is between “Best if used by,” “Use by,” and “Sell by”? ” 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.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.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.
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.
How much to do you know about dates on egg cartons, UPC or bar codes, storage times? “Sell by Feb 14” is a type of information you might find on a meat or poultry product. Does it mean the product will be unsafe to use after that date?
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.
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).