"Open Dating" is a calendar date applied to a food product by the manufacturer or retailer.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.A change in the color of meat or poultry is not an indicator of spoilage (The Color of Meat and Poultry).[Top of Page] What are the Requirements for Dating Infant Formula? Consumption by this date ensures the formula contains not less than the quantity of each nutrient as described on the label.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.“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.[Top of Page] Does Federal Law Require Food Product Dating?
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.
If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.
Microorganisms such as molds, yeasts, and bacteria can multiply and cause food to spoil.
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.
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).