Do Food Expiration Dates Really Mean Anything?

Buying and preparing fresh, wholesome meat is important to consumers. Traditionally, consumers have used their eyes, nose and touch to evaluate the appearance of fresh meat and to check for signs of spoilage. Today, the practice of dating meat products is more common than ever, but the different types of dates can be confusing. Some of the most common dates found on meat and poultry products include:. Simple calendar dates are sometimes stamped on products to help stores rotate and display products properly. Sometimes dates say “Best if used by or before. This date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Consumers should buy the product before the date expires and then use or freeze according to the charts in this brochure.

Standards and Guidelines

As a general rule here are some guidelines as to how long meat can last in a cryovac bag, under ideal refrigerated conditions:. Something else to bear in mind is the more a cryovac bag is handled, it begins to loosen the bag and the guidelines above may not apply for as long a time. So best to place it in the bottom of your fridge and leave it untouched until you plan to use it. Our fresh, quality meat is sold under ideal refrigerated temperatures and thus our best before and packed dates are set as per these conditions.

Any factors that impact upon these conditions are going to reduce the shelf life of the product. We hope these tips can guide you this summer, but as always any questions, please just ask!

regarded as a hazard associated with fresh meat but could be a hazard on some sliced processed meats or other cooked meats with extended shelf lives.

Choosing wholesome meat and getting those products home safely will start you on the path to preventing foodborne illness. As a general rule, shop for meat products last. Keep frozen and refrigerated foods together in the cart. Meat products will either be fresh cold but not frozen or frozen. The package should be completely sealed. The meat may be on sale several days before the sell by date. If you purchase this meat, freeze it or use it by the sell by date.

Food Date Stamps Explained

As long as food is stored correctly and hasn’t been opened, it should be safe to eat before its use-by date. However, after that, a food can’t legally be sold and shouldn’t be eaten. Best-before dates are used to provide information about food quality.

Date and label meat in the freezer and eat it within 24 hours of defrosting. Frozen raw foods can be defrosted once and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

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. It tells you how long the product will be at its best flavor and quality.

Baked goods, cereals, snacks, frozen entrees and some canned food will have freshness dating. The food is safe to eat after this date. Though, that three-year-old candy bar might taste stale, have an odd flavor or be chewier than normal.

Safe storage of your meat purchases

Product dating of meat and poultry is not required by Federal regulations. 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. On the other hand, if a retailer puts the labels on products, they may be changed if the product remains wholesome.

Typically, a ‘use by’ date is used for fresh, ready-to-eat and chilled foods such as yogurt, milk, meat, unpasteurised fruit juices etc. An exception to this is raw.

They’re meant to protect us and ensure the highest quality and safety of our food, but why are expiration dates so confusing? The cryptic and sometimes smudged date on the label of a food product can leave us wondering how safe it is to eat. And, in a less than perfect economy, where many people are trying to stretch their grocery budget, is it ever OK to keep food beyond its sell-by date?

Find the answer to this question and more. Use by, sell by or best before …confusing, right? Next time you’re trying to make sense of a food label, remember these guidelines from Lindsay Baker, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and food safety expert in Augusta, Georgia:. While you can normally safely eat a food a few days after a sell-by date, it’s not recommended to go much beyond it.

The length of time that food is good after this date depends on the product.

Episode #1.3

Food labeling can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your groceries. A survey from the National Resources Defense Council found that 90 percent of Americans toss out food prematurely. Much of this waste can be attributed to a confusing food dating system that is not federally regulated. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture USDA states on its website that, with the exception of infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.

The food dates or “expiration dates” we’re so familiar with are actually not indicators of food safety at all, they are simply the manufacturer’s suggestion as to when their product is at best quality.

The ‘Use By’ date is displayed on foods like fresh meat and fish, milk and pre-​packed salad. It’s been determined by the manufacturer, who is.

Advice service. We use cookies on fsai. By using this website you consent to this. For more information on cookies see our cookie policy. What is shelf-life? Shelf-life is the period of time during which a food maintains its acceptable or desirable characteristics under specified storage and handling conditions. These acceptable or desirable characteristics can be related to the safety or quality of the product and can be microbiological, chemical or physical in nature.

What is the date of minimum durability? Regulation EU No. When should this decision be taken? It is strongly recommended that the food manufacturer or producer document this process. Food business operators who receive bulk food product and subsequently break it down and repackage it, are now responsible for ensuring that the information provided relating to this product, including its shelf-life, is correct, under Article 8 of Regulation EU No.

The FBOs are responsible for any changes they make to the food information accompanying a food.

Here’s How Long You Can Actually Keep Food After the Expiration Date

In Australia, meat is processed, packaged and labelled to obtain the maximum shelf life without creating a food safety risk to consumers. Meat products can be generally classified into the categories of unprocessed and processed. Unprocessed fresh meat can be sold as either chilled or frozen.

Product dating of meat and poultry is not required by Federal regulations. or the safe handling label that is on every package of fresh meat and poultry.

The Food Bank sometimes hands out products after their expiration date. Packed food products always have an expiration date:. THT is used for dry goods and most refrigerated products that have to be stored at a given temperature. These products must be stored at 0 — 4 degrees Celsius. It is recommended not to eat these products after this date because they may be spoiled. In case of a TGT-date use by it has already been stated that these are vulnerable products; therefore these may not be supplied after their TGT-date, because food safety can not be guaranteed.

This is allowed because while the quality of the product may slowly deteriorate depending on the kind of product , there is no health threat. This depends on the kind of product: canned peas can be kept for a very long time, cookies for a much shorter period. During this period of time no health threat is expected.

This overview has been submitted to all Food Banks and distribution points to be considered by their clients. The shelf life of refrigerated products can be prolonged by deep-freezing the product at —18 degrees Celsius for example at clients home. Products with a TGT date may also be frozen to extend their shelf live.

If this is the case, Food Banks will label these products with additional conditions.

Howard’s New Friend – Fresh Meat