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Information of Expiration Dates

By  , Expert Content
Jan 17, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Best before or sell by Feb 20-2010, is the type of information that you often find on food products especially perishable ones. Are these dates needed? Is it safe to use the products after that date?

 

What is Dating

 

Date on a food product as opposed to a code helps the:

  • Store or shopkeeper to determine how long to display the product for sale.
  • Customer to know the time limit for it’s purchase or use.

The date on a food product is not a safety date, but it indicates the date before which it is best for use date or best in quality. The food product can be used even after the date passes if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below for the recommended storage time. However, before you use the product after the indicated date note the colour, odor and appearance. If in doubt it is best to discard it. A use by date indicates the date before which it is best for use date or best in quality where as if the food product has "sell-by" date or no date, you can cook or freeze the food if required.

 

Is Dating Required by Federal Law

 

No, product dating is generally not required for all food products by law and regulations. However infant formula and some baby food need to have product dating by law and regulations. Shelf-stable and frozen products should have a date (such as "sell-by" or "use before) that expresses both the month and day of the month. However a uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating is currently not there in India.

 

What Types of Food Are Dated

 

Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products should have a date that expresses both the month and day of the month.

 

Shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food are permitted to have a "Closed" or "coded" dating.

 

What are the Types of Dates

  • Sell-By date: This indicates how long the food product can be display for sale. These products must be bought before the date expires.
  • Best if Used By (or Before) date: This date shows before which the product is recommended for use for getting best flavor or quality. This date is not a safety date. 
  • "Use-By" date: This date shows the last recommended date for the use of the food product when it’s quality would be best.
  • Closed or coded date: These are packing numbers present on some products for reference by the manufacturer.

Safety After Date Expires

 

The dates on food products do not indicate the safety period but usually the period in which the product is of best quality. The food product can be used safely even after the date passes if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below for the recommended storage time at home. However, before you use the product after the indicated date note the color, odor and appearance. If in doubt it is best to discard it. A use by date indicates the date before which it is best for use date or best in quality where as if the food product has "sell-by" date or no date, you can cook or freeze the food if required. In a product with a "sell-by" date or no date, you can cook or freeze the product. There are charts which tell the time a particular food product can be stored in the freezer.

 

Dating Formula & Baby Food

 

In several countries according to law a "use-by" date on the product label of infant formula and other baby foods is required. If the product is used by the mentioned date then the quantity of each nutrient is as described on the label and the quality is also good. Just we don’t like to eat stale potato chips, use of baby food products by date will ensure optimal quality as well as nutrient retention...

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