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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?Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality.The quality of perishable products may deteriorate after the date passes, however, such products should still be safe if handled properly.Consumers must evaluate the quality of the product prior to its consumption to determine if the product shows signs of spoilage. Open dating is found on most foods including meat, poultry, egg and dairy products.“Closed Dating” is a code that consists of a series of letters and/or numbers applied by manufacturers to identify the date and time of production. Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
These products will typically maintain product quality for a longer period of time because of how the products are formulated or packaged.The organization has a chart for how long different foods can be kept in a refrigerator or freezer.Even though some food remains edible — just less tasty and nutritionally dense — after its best before date, that doesn't mean all food is safe to eat when that date passes.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.