Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are Dates That Important?

In this age of being frugal and mindful of how and where we spend our income, I have a few comments about food and beverage expiration dates. You know, the dates stamped on the food and beverages that we purchase. The dates must have a safety connection or why would they be printed on food and beverage products. So I did some research. According to the United States Department of Agriculture: The DATE is NOT always a safety date! So what is the dating?"Open Dating" (use of a calendar date as opposed to a code) on a food product is a date stamped on a product's package to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale. It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality. It is not a safety date. After the date passes, while not of best quality, the product should still be safe if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below for the recommended storage times listed on the chart at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Food_Product_Dating/index.asp. If product has a "use-by" date, follow that date. If product has a "sell-by" date or no date, cook or freeze the product by the times on the chart.cording to the USDA

Types of Dates:
A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
This research answered many of my questions, hopefully yours also. I guess the next time I clean out my food pantry disposing of food I thought was expired, I will rethink my behavior.

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