Closed dating foods

Federal law doesn't require manufacturers or stores to use opening dating, except for infant formula, but some states have their own requirements.If manufacturers choose to use dates, they must indicate the month, the day and a phrase explaining the date: Eggs are in a class by themselves when it comes to dating.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.” Believe it or not, 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. Open dating is found primarily on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

For consumers, the date indicates freshness or quality.

For example, if sliced deli meats or prepared cold sandwiches with perishable ingredients are taken are taken to a catering event and left out un-refrigerated for several hours, they wouldn’t be safe if used thereafter, even if the date hasn’t expired.

*** Lacie Thrall passed away in early 2017 after a long illness.

There’s a big difference between “product or code dating” from the manufacturer in an unopened package and “date marking” (as required by the 2013 FDA Food Code) in the restaurant once a perishable, ready-to-eat (RTE) food package is opened for use or prepared from scratch. “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. Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.

It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality. 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).

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“Closed” or “coded” dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.

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