Law for dating
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These codes also enable manufacturers to rotate their stock and locate their products in the event of a recall. tomatoes and fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months. meats and vegetables) will keep for two to five years.
Viruses are not capable of growing in food and do not cause spoilage.
To reduce consumer confusion and wasted food, FSIS recommends that food manufacturers and retailers that apply product dating use a "Best if Used By" date.
Research shows that this phrase conveys to consumers that the product will be of best quality if used by the calendar date shown.
Foods not exhibiting signs of spoilage should be wholesome and may be sold, purchased, donated and consumed beyond the labeled "Best if Used By" date.
[Top of Page] Safety After 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).
Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.
[Top of Page] How do Manufacturers Determine Quality Dates?
"Closed or coded dates" are a series of letters and/or numbers and typically appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food. There are no uniform or universally accepted descriptions used on food labels for open dating in the United States.
As a result, there are a wide variety of phrases used on labels to describe quality dates. One source of food waste arises from consumers or retailers throwing away wholesome food because of confusion about the meaning of dates displayed on the label.
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." [Top of Page] Are Dates for Food Safety or Quality?