Do the dates on food packages puzzle you? What about those letters and numbers? If you are confused or puzzled— you are not alone. There is no uniform or universally accepted system for food dating in the U. However, Washington law does require that foods that spoil within 30 days, including milk, cottage cheese, and eggs carry a pull date by which they are to be sold. This sell by date represents the last day to sell the product so you will have time to store and use it at home safely.
A Lesson in Food Product Dating
The quality of a food typically refers to the peak flavor, texture, or color of the food, but it is generally not a safety issue. Menu Oregon. Agency Main Content. An open date must be clearly visible to retail consumers.
Most of the dates printed on food indicate when the food is at peak quality, not Food Safety and Inspection Service- “Food Product Dating“.
College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. Food costs consume much of the family budget. So, it makes sense to consider the safety of food when you buy it and bring it home. You don’t want to throw food out before you even use it. Do your shopping in a store that looks clean, has quick turnover of perishable foods, and has a commitment to safe handling and display of produce, deli foods, meat and poultry. You will want a store that responds well to your concerns about safe food handling.
And if you have concerns about a food product once you get it home, the store should not make it difficult to return the suspect item for a full refund. Except for infant formula and some baby food see below , product dating is not required by Federal regulations. Many states do require dating as part of their dairy regulations, but, there is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating.
While not required by federal law, some processors add this information to help with ensuring the safety and quality of food on the grocery store shelves. There is no one way that a manufacturer must code a product, each manufacturer can use a system unique to them. Some use numbers that correspond to dates, others may refer to the location of the plant or batch number.
Food Expiration Dates: What Do They Really Mean?
Employee mixed chemical in sweet tea thinking it was sugar, woman in critical condition. This recent news headline shows just how important it is to label food and non-food items in your kitchen. Any food that is not in its original packaging must be labeled. Think about all of the foods that could easily be mistaken for one another: salt could be used in place of sugar or baking powder in place of flour. Always make sure chemicals are labeled and kept in a closet, or in a separate area away from food.
In addition to labeling, dating items requires special attention.
Date labels are the dates on food packaging that are accompanied by phrases for the few products that carry an increased food safety risk if consumed past a.
See hospital and staff awards. Winchester Hospital was the first community hospital in the state to achieve Magnet designation, recognition for nursing excellence. Learn why. Our tremendous staff gives back to our community by coordinating free health screenings, educational programs, and food drives. Learn more.
A leading indicator of our success is the feedback we get from our patients. While it is true that almost any food can become contaminated if handled improperly, some foods that are purchased or used after their expiration dates may also contain bacteria or other pathogens that can cause a foodborne illness. Others foods may lose some of their nutritional value without becoming contaminated. The expiration dates on foods reflect when to buy or use a product at its best quality.
So, while you will not necessarily get sick from eating expired food, its freshness and nutrient value may be diminished. Therefore, the trick is to know how long a product is safe to eat after its expiration date. The following tips may help.
What Do Sell-By Dates Tell You About Food Safety?
I was one confused consumer one night last week. Late at night and hungry, I opened the freezer door to find a lone microwave dinner. Printed on the carton was a “Use By” date, and it was now almost two month’s past that date. Suddenly, visions of past problems of spinach and cookie dough danced in my head. There I was, a grown man staring at that “use by” date and thinking, “Will eating this mean a trip to the emergency room? At least I knew that I wasn’t alone.
Many people are confused about how long to keep a product after its date has passed. It can be difficult to help people understand the food is safe, given all the.
Food labeling can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your groceries. A survey from the National Resources Defense Council found that 90 percent of Americans toss out food prematurely. Much of this waste can be attributed to a confusing food dating system that is not federally regulated. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture USDA states on its website that, with the exception of infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
The food dates or “expiration dates” we’re so familiar with are actually not indicators of food safety at all, they are simply the manufacturer’s suggestion as to when their product is at best quality. So what does this mean for the consumer? You and I may very well be tossing out food while it’s still perfectly safe to eat. The best way to combat this waste is to familiarize yourself with common food labels and their meanings.
Date labelling on pre-packaged foods
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.
matter of safety as it is quality. We want food that is safe to eat as well as food that tastes good. There is not a universally accepted food dating system in the.
How do I know if my milk is O. Is my meat expired? How am I supposed to wash my groceries? They reported discarding food based on label dates with significantly more frequency than other consumers. These dates are largely unregulated, although new voluntary standards are coming into effect. Communication about dates is needed as this research about food date labels found widespread confusion, leading to unnecessary discards, increased waste, and food safety risks.
Raw chicken was most frequently thrown out because of the food date label. Soft cheeses were near the bottom of the list. Prepared foods, deli meats, and soft cheeses are particularly at risk of contamination from listeria, a bacteria which grows quickly in refrigerated conditions. Despite concerns of listeria, soft cheeses were rarely discarded by the labeled date.
On the other hand, raw chicken was frequently discarded even though it would be cooked prior to consuming and is not considered as big a risk. Keep in mind that bacteria, dirt, and germs happen.
Food Safety & Cooking Tips
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.
Food Safety Information. USDA Photo. Food Product Dating. “Sell by Feb 14” is a type of information you might find on a meat or poultry product. Are dates.
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