If you have diarrhea after eating eggs, you may be wondering if your eggs are bad. Although the expiration date code on your carton of eggs and other packaged foods may provide some clues, these dates are more about food quality than food safety. When you’re looking through your kitchen cupboard for a can of unsweetened cocoa so you can make chocolate zucchini muffins or some other treat, you may come across a few items you forgot about. When you look at the expiration date codes on the back, you may be surprised and possibly embarrassed to learn that the items in your cupboard expired over a year ago. Or did they? All other foods labeled with “best-by” or “use-by” dates are determined by the manufacturer and not required by law. The dating of food is voluntary and not indicative of whether the food is safe to eat or not.
What do the terms “closed dating” and “open dating” mean?
An expiration date is a date after which a consumable product such as food or medicine should not be used because it may be spoiled, damaged, or ineffective. The term expiration date also refers to the date that a drug patent expires. Expiration dates are especially important for medications because they offer the only indication about whether the product is still safe to use. Food items, on the other hand, often look or smell bad when they have passed their “best-buy” dates. Certain medications can be fatal to children or pets if they ingest even the smallest amount; these should be flushed down the sink or toilet once they pass their expiration date.
Last Updated: August 26, References. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. This article has been viewed 77, times. Learn more Lots of food items, beauty products, and medications are thrown away every year because of misunderstood expiration dates. Learn the difference between an open-date code, which gives you a recommendation on how long a certain item will be good for, versus a closed code, which tells you when an item was actually manufactured.
Did You Know? This is part of the reason it can be so tricky to read these dates and understand how long your items will actually be good for.
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This column is a continuation of the first. Are foods safe to eat after the date passes? With an exception of infant formula described below , if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident chill refrigerate promptly. Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor, or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.
“Open Dating” (use of a calendar date as opposed to a code) on a “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
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Understanding Dates on Food Labels
Its good to have at hand, or at least know what to look for in order to find out exactly when an item was produced. This small batch batch can be as little as a few drops of product for your safety or as a larger quantity. It is recommended that you check and date products yourself in your local grocery store and to do so in the most convenient manner possible. Therefore, its very important to always check the expiration date. But that does not mean no contamination has taken place!
This is a good time to talk to the vendor about removing contamination from the food.
“Closed” or “coded” dating might appear on shelf- stable products such as cans and boxes of food. Types of Dates. • A “Sell-By” date tells the.
PDF version. Are dates required on these food products? Does it mean the product will be unsafe to use after that date? Here is some background information answering these and other questions about product dating. What is Food Product Dating? 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.
Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
Product Dating FAQ
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.
Closed dating is a required packing code for tracking products in interstate These codes (found on canned goods) might refer to the date of.
Shelf life is the length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use, consumption, or sale. It applies to cosmetics , foods and beverages , medical devices , medicines , explosives , pharmaceutical drugs , chemicals , tyres , batteries , and many other perishable items. In some regions, an advisory best before , mandatory use by or freshness date is required on packaged perishable foods. The concept of expiration date is related but legally distinct in some jurisdictions.
Shelf life is the recommended maximum time for which products or fresh harvested produce can be stored, during which the defined quality of a specified proportion of the goods remains acceptable under expected or specified conditions of distribution, storage and display. If the cans look okay, they are safe to use. Discard cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen. High-acid canned foods tomatoes, fruits will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods meats, vegetables for 2 to 5 years.
Most food is still edible after the expiration date. In most food stores, waste is minimized by using stock rotation , which involves moving products with the earliest sell by date from the warehouse to the sales area, and then to the front of the shelf, so that most shoppers will pick them up first and thus they are likely to be sold before the end of their shelf life.
Some stores can be fined for selling out of date products; most if not all would have to mark such products down as wasted , resulting in a financial loss.
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. This enables manufacturers to rotate their stock as well as to locate their products in the event of a recall.
Julian Date Code. How To Read a Julian Date Code. The Julian Date represents the date of production. For example: (this is NOT the item code or SKU).
Friend us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Suscribe via RSS. Closed dating is a required packing code for tracking products in interstate commerce and locating products that have been recalled. These codes found on canned goods might refer to the date of manufacture, but they are not meant to tell the customer how long the product can be used. How can I avoid getting sick from a bacterial illness? How dangerous is a staph infection? Can I assume that if food smells bad its unsafe to eat and if it smells ok that it is safe to eat?
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Types of Expiration Date Codes
There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Depending on which food you are buying, the date on the package could be a recommendation on when it should be sold by or when it should be eaten by. Since confusion surrounding a date could mean throwing out perfectly good food, here are some tips about food package dates and storage for some common foods on your shopping list.
Open dating use of a calendar date is found primarily on the package of perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
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. The general rule of thumb is that canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. Many canned products now have a “for best quality use by” date stamped on the top or bottom of the can. Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing.
Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture. Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile. Food safety is not an issue in products kept on the shelf or in the pantry for long periods of time. Canned food as old as years has been found in sunken ships and it is still microbiologically safe!
Deciphering date codes on canned goods
In most cases, this is not true. Date codes relate more to quality than safety. In general, there are two types of date codes: open and closed. Understanding these two types of date codes can help you determine what products to use when, reducing unnecessary food waste. Open date codes are most commonly seen on food and drinks.
Open dating is found primarily on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs “Closed” or “coded” dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as There is no book which tells how to translate the codes into dates.
In the event we need to bring product back or trace an issue with the production, the code date is our main source of information. We want to make sure we have the most accurate shelf life while still maintaining and communicating the utmost attention to food safety. It is important to note that the United States does not have a uniform system of coding expiration dates on food products, according to the U. Department of Agriculture.
The federal government requires expiration dates only on baby foods and infant formula. Other dating on food products is voluntary, and this is one reason why manufacturers use different terms and why similar products from different manufacturers may have completely different variations for their own date qualifiers. In the end, consumers should always pay attention to the instructions on the package and use their best judgment about food products.
Another resource to verify the safety of a food item is to call the phone number listed on the package. If people have questions about a product, give us a ring, send an email or contact us via our social media channels. Even though formats may vary from product to product, this quick reference guide is a good resource for decoding code dates. This date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.
You should buy the product before that date. You should always pay attention to the instructions on the package and use your best judgment about when to consume the product. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality.
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Low-acid canned goods keep their quality longer than high-acid ones. Credit: AP. How do you decipher date codes on canned food and, if you manage to decipher them, how long after the date is it safe to eat the food? This question was a follow-up to my recent column on the difference between the “sell by” and “use by” dates that are found on packaged food. Both are examples of what the industry calls “open dating,” easily interpreted information found on such perishable products as meat, eggs and dairy.
Closed dating is a code that consists of letters and/or numbers; it is applied by manufacturers to identify the date and time that they produced.
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