The dates you see on food are to indicate food quality. Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality. Other food products are still safe to consumer after these dates. A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management.
Availability of FSIS Food Product Dating Fact Sheet
Food Product Dating
According to the U. More than 20 states require dating of certain foods, but other states do not require any food dating. With the exceptions of infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations. If an open date is shown on a product, both the month and day of the month and year for shelf-stable and frozen products must be displayed on the product packaging. The date does not correspond to the date by which the product must be consumed to ensure food safety; rather, the date is indicated for product quality. Open dating is typically found on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. After an open date passes, food may not be at the best quality, but products should still be safe if handled properly and stored at proper temperatures.
Keeping my Food Safe
Many times the shelf-life of food is not so much a matter of safety as it is quality. We want food that is safe to eat as well as food that tastes good. Observing "sell-by," "expiration" and "use-by" dates is recommended. But what do these terms mean? Most dating is voluntary and is the manufacturer's best guess at how long the product will last.
The quality of a food typically refers to the peak flavor, texture, or color of the food, but it is generally not a safety issue. Menu Oregon. Agency Main Content.