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“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.

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.

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.

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.

Codes appear as a series of letters and/or numbers and refer to the date the product was canned. Usually these are "Best if Used By" dates for peak quality. Additional information on food canning and the handling of canned foods may be found at Shelf-Stable Food Safety.

To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month.

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[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).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.Food spoilage can occur much faster if it is not stored or handled properly.A change in the color of meat or poultry is not an indicator of spoilage (The Color of Meat and Poultry).

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