Dating practices in 2016
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 Food Quality?
Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality.
"Best if Used By" is a type of date you might find on a meat, poultry, or egg product label. 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. Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label.
Viruses are not capable of growing in food and do not cause spoilage.
There are two types of bacteria that can be found on food: pathogenic bacteria, which cause foodborne illness, and spoilage bacteria, which do not cause illness but do cause foods to deteriorate and develop unpleasant characteristics such as an undesirable taste or odor making the food not wholesome.
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.
[Top of Page] Does Federal Law Require Food Product Dating?
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.
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.
Manufacturers and retailers will consider these factors when determining the date for which the product will be of best quality.