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.
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Date labelling of foods has long been a requirement in Canada for food would have greater flexibility in presenting the date code format in.
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. Millions of consumers experience the confusion of product dating, primarily because it is confusing. One package might have a “sell by” date, another a “best before” date, and yet another, a “use by” date. Some products even use what is called a Julian Date, which is perfectly understandable as long as you’re a mathematician.
It would be much easier if the U. Department of Agriculture USDA required product manufacturers to print a simple sentence on each product, maybe something like: “If you consume this product after this date, you’re gonna regret it. Except for infant formula and some baby food, USDA regulations do not generally require product dating. And as for the FDA, widely seen as the nation’s primary enforcer of food and drug safety laws, it largely stays out of food dating. Herndon of the FDA.
Expiration dates: Before you toss your food, read this
10 Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard (Cth) cl 2. 11 National Resources Defense Council, The Dating Game: How Confusing.
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It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality. It is not a safety date. Cans must exhibit a packing code to enable tracking of the product in interstate commerce.
The Julian Calendar has been around for centuries. How to Figure Out Your Food Storage Manufacture Date. How Can You Read a Julian Date Code? |.
The U. This group of industry professionals inspectors, educators, scientists, manufacturers, foodservice managers, etc. The group brings forth and discusses food safety issues and makes recommendations to the FDA for changes in the Federal Code. It is up the agencies that have responsibility for food safety to either adopt or adapt the FDA code to their own jurisdiction. The FDA may issue supplements between full editions if something needs to be updated or clarified.
These chapters contain the specific guidelines for those topics. In addition the FDA Code contains a series of annexes. These annexes provide the backup information scientific data, references, or rational, etc.
Code Dates Decoded
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. 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.
By understanding the coding on the egg cartons, chefs and bakers can determine the freshness of the eggs.
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Grocery manufacturers and retailers have joined together to streamline and standardize the wording accompanying the date labels on packages to offer greater clarity regarding the quality and safety of products. This new industry-wide effort is launched by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute as part of the Trading Partner Alliance TPA will help reduce consumer confusion over dates on the product label and potentially help consumers avoid unnecessary food waste.
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Just because food in your refrigerator or pantry has passed its sell-by much of the food waste in the U.S. is linked to an unclear food dating.
Is there a way to tell from the egg carton how old the eggs are? Are there some guidelines for how long eggs are safe to eat? According to the U. Each carton of USDA graded eggs must show the date of packaging, the processing plant number, and may include an expiration date. USDA assures that all labeling and claims made on the carton are truthful and accurate.
To determine freshness, a Julian date or pack-date calendar can be used. This three-digit code indicates the date of packaging, starting with January 1 as and ending with December 31 as These numbers represent the consecutive days of the year. You can store fresh shell eggs in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond this date. Most states require a pack date as described in this article.
How to Read Food Expiration Date Codes
Food date labels are there to help consumers make informed and safe decisions about the products they are purchasing. Depending on what type of food you are buying, the date on the package can tell you when it should be eaten by, and when it should be sold by. Open dating calendar dates are normally found on the package of perishable foods such as meat, poultry and eggs.
Code Dating Terminology: “Best if used by” – Manufacturers use this date to indicate the last date by which the highest quality of the particular product is.
Are canned and packaged foods on the shelves at the supermarkets marked with the date of processing? Is there a dating code used on boxed or cartoned foods? These are questions homemakers are asking. Most packaged canned, boxed, cartoned foods are produced in tremendous quantities by the food industry and marked with codes for purposes of identification. It is most desirable that all containers of one batch be identified to prevent mixup during warehouse storage, transportation, and marketing.
If any defect in processing or formulation were to occur, it could then be isolated. With raw fruits and vegetables, the raw product quality may vary with climate and other conditions. One supermarket chain indicated recently that it would reveal what its codes were. How would understanding the code be helpful to the consumer?
How to read food date labels and packaging
Last Updated: September 6, References. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed , times. Learn more If you want to know when a product was manufactured, you’ll need to know how to read date codes.
There are two types of expiration date codes on products. The first type is open dating, which uses a standard time or calendar date. These dates.
July 27, – Author: Joyce McGarry. These numbers can cause confusion, and often deciphering them can be like solving a mystery. The consumer can easily read an open date. Only manufacturers know the meaning of these dates. They probably confuse consumers the most. Joyce McGarry mcgarryj msu. The dates are not necessarily guides for food safety. Also in most cases, the product date is determined for a product remaining unopened and stored in a proper manner.
Formula must retain an adequate quality to pass through the nipple of the bottle.