The usdas food product dating page
The food may contain an organism which can make consumers sick, an undeclared allergen that could cause a life threatening reaction or the mislabeling of a food item.
Although food recalls do not affect many people, if you have food allergies or a compromised immune system, ingesting foods that have been recalled can be very dangerous.
It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality. However, if a calendar date is used, it must express both the month and day of the month (and the year, in the case of shelf-stable and frozen products).
If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as "sell-by" or "use before." There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States.
Some reasons for recalling food include: Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts (FDA) Significant food recalls and alerts over the last five years.
Recalled Product Photos on Flickr (FDA) View photos of recalled foods.
"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.
In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed.Producers believe that an average of 38 percent of hot dogs are sold annually at retail between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For example, in 2004, there were approximately 4 million in retail sales from June through August. Specifically, ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July, which is designated as National Hot Dog Month. On Fourth of July weekend alone, Americans will consume approximately 150 million hot dogs. Although the all-famous “Seventh Inning Stretch” at America’s baseball stadiums ask fans to go out to the ball game..some peanuts and crackerjack, many fans would exit the turnstiles of stadiums disappointed if they did not enjoy one of baseball’s greatest ballpark traditions, the hot dog. As mentioned supra , one of the more famous hot dogs is the Dodger Dog, sold at every home game of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “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 best way to gauge a product for safety is to observe it: if it smells, tastes, or looks spoiled, do not consume it.