Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Unnecessary Food Waste

Food dating emerged in the s, prompted by consumer demand as Americans produced less of their own food but still demanded information about how it was made. The dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in the sense of becoming inedible. This is about quality, not safety. Is It Worth Buying Organic? The only federally required and regulated food dating involves infant formula, since the nutrients in formula lose their potency as time goes on. What regulation does exist occurs at the state level — and all but nine states in the U.

Nothing Simple about Food Dating, Expiration Dates or ‘Use-By’ Dates

Have the Labeling Requirements been Met? No pre-approval of label is required by FDA for products under its jurisdiction. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer of a food to comply with current food labeling regulations. Pre-approval of label by USDA is required for products under its jurisdiction; e. Food service products ; e.

Also throw it away if there is a severe dent on the side because it can pull at the top or bottom seams.

Additional links to images of similar bottles are also frequently included. The array of references used to support the conclusions and estimates found here – including the listed dating ranges – are noted. Additional information and estimates are based on the empirical observations of the author over 50 years of experience; a fact often but not always noted. Various terminology is used in the descriptions that may be unfamiliar if you have not studied other pages on this site.

If a term is unfamiliar, first check the Bottle Glossary page for an explanation or definition. As an alternative, one can do a search of this website.

Food Label Confusion: ‘Best By,’ ‘Sell By,’ ‘Use By’ Don’t Mean Much, Expert Says

Another valuable piece of information on your food packaging is whether or not the food is still safe to eat. There are two types of dating that are usually displayed on a food product: It also helps the purchaser know when to purchase or use the product at its best quality. In addition to the “open date,” there must be a phrase such as “sell by,” or “use by” to explain the meaning of the date.

Early 20th century examples made by the Illinois Glass Co.

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. The date does not correspond to the date by which the product must be consumed to ensure food safety; rather, the date is indicated for product quality.

Open dating is typically found on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. After an open date passes, food may not be at the best quality, but products should still be safe if handled properly and stored at proper temperatures. Foodborne bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness before or after the date on the package if foods are mishandled. In the case of infant formula, if stored too long, it can separate and clog the nipple.

When did the “dating” tradition start? who started it? & what is the idea behind it?

Abstract A federally regulated open dating system on food products, instead of the current somewhat random and non-uniform state mandated system, would most likely benefit today’s consumers, retailers, and government agencies. Consumers have indicated a strong desire for open dates; it would enhance their ability to make educated choices about the freshness of the foods they consume.

Finally, federal open dating regulations across state borders would lessen burdens on interstate commerce. The potential benefits of this dating system outweigh the opposing points-of-view.

Very similar looking ringed peppersauce bottles were also made during the same era s through s that were round “round ring pepper sauce” and square “square ring pepper sauce” in cross-section instead of oval Illinois Glass ; Cumberland Glass ; Obear-Nester Glass

You know all those dates you see on food products — sell by, use by, best before? In fact, according to one industry study, 90 percent of Americans at least occasionally throw food away prematurely because they mistakenly interpret the date label to mean that their food is unsafe. And 25 percent of them do so every time. We took a deep dive into the intricacies of U. And, after all that, I can tell you this: And that mess is leading to a whole lot of perfectly good food going to waste.

Take orange juice, for instance. In most states, there are no laws requiring that orange juice have a date stamped on it. It is then up to the manufacturer to figure the whole thing out on their own, and there is a whole series of decisions they might go through, such as:

A Lesson in Food Product Dating

Date code listings below One of the most frequently asked questions about canned food is its shelf life and “use-by” dates. The codes that are stamped on canned food are manufacturers’ codes that usually designate the date the product was packaged. The codes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and usually include coding for time and place of canning. Most manufacturers offer a toll-free number to call for questions about canned food expiration dates. For a sampling of how to read product codes, See Below.

Remember, the code stamped on the can is when it was packaged.

It is not thought original but related to a re-use of the bottle as it had several holes punched in it and was likely re-used as a salt shaker or sprinkle bottle.

Instead, the date shown is the last day the product is at its peak quality, as determined by the manufacturer, according to Hansen and a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council — an action group that works to protect health and the environment — and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. The guidelines for label dating vary from state to state. Some states have no guidelines at all. The only product that carries a federally regulated use-by date is infant formula.

He and others believe the confusion leads to major waste and consumers losing money. In many cases, the food is still safe to eat after those dates. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, milk may be good for up to one week after the printed date. According to the USDA, eggs may be good within three to five weeks from your purchase date and certain canned good, such as soup and green beans — can be good unopened on the shelf for up to five years.

Open Dating of Foods.

As we have learned, most food is still edible after these printed expiration dates have passed. When reviewing the best-by date, or any printed date on a food item in question, you may find it interesting to learn the following facts associated with the shelf life of foods. The only requirement is that the food is wholesome and fit for consumption.

It deals with a Dateline story about the re-dating of meat products in supermarkets.

Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label. The calendar date provides consumers with information on the estimated period of time for which the product will be of best quality and to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale. Does Federal Law Require Dating? Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.

For meat, poultry, and egg products under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service FSIS , dates may be voluntarily applied provided they are labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and in compliance with FSIS regulations 1. To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month. In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed. Additionally, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as “Best if Used By.

Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality. Factors including the length of time and the temperature at which a food is held during distribution and offered for sale, the characteristics of the food, and the type of packaging will affect how long a product will be of optimum quality.

Canned Food, Shelf Life

USDA Nutrient Database Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients , and are a very good source of dietary potassium. Uses of other parts of the plant[ edit ] Where craft traditions still thrive, such as in Oman , the palm tree is the most versatile of all indigenous plants, and virtually every part of the tree is utilized to make functional items ranging from rope and baskets to beehives , fishing boats, and traditional dwellings.

Their oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics.

A seamless oval tin holding a cake of solidified toothpowder made by Dr.

You may want to read this page first for background. 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. Food expiration date coding is a nightmare for the consumer to interpret. There is no standard.

Each vendor decides how they want to do it. The FDA only has guidelines on labeling a product and the required information. This is different from an expiration date on all food products that the consumer can understand. Food products can be divided into two main categories – refrigerated and canned. Most bakery and pharmacy related food items are “sell by” or “best by” dated, which is easy for you and I to understand.

Some refrigerated and canned manufactures use this form of dating. But the only guideline a grocer has to follow in selling is the FDA’s “Federal Food Code” , which mainly says the food must be uncontaminated with no signs of spoilage when sold. First lets explain some background.