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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.
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.
The "Use-By" date is selected by the manufacturer, packer or distributor of the product on the basis of product analysis throughout its shelf life, tests, or other information."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.To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month.In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed.Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.[Top of Page] How do Manufacturers Determine Quality Dates?“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.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).