What Does Use By Date Mean
The “Use By Date” is the last day that the manufacturer recommends for the product’s quality. It is the date the manufacturer vouches that the consumer uses their product for “best quality” in their food. You may eat the food after this date, but it is not going to be of the best quality if a use-by date has passed.
The “use-by” date is a date before which food can be safely used, consumed, cooked, or processed, after being stored properly. The use by date on food products directly tells us if it is safe to eat, whereas best by dates relate to only the quality. Typically, a best before date is used on foods like canned, dried, room temperature, frozen, etc. Many foods past their best before dates can still be eaten, but may have degraded in quality. How long you can eat a food past its best before date depends completely on the product and the way that the food was stored.
Food that has passed its best-before date is not unsafe to eat, but it might lose some flavor, texture, and quality. Do not Trust Smell Tests Food may appear to taste and smell good, even past the best-by date, but this does not mean that it is safe to eat. Beware, even though food looks good to eat, it may contain harmful bacteria you cannot see or smell; regularly check food, and know when it is past use-by date.
Much like that label, use-by dates do not tell when a food is not safe to eat. The Best If Used By or Best If Used Before dates tell consumers the food will be at the highest quality level until a certain date. Some FBOs, besides declaring Best Before or Use By dates, will label foods using terms like Best By, Expiration, Eat By, Display By, etc., followed by a respective date.
The operator of a food facility, typically a producer or producer, who places a label on the food product is responsible for deciding if it needs to be declared as having a best before or use by date. The use-by date is established by the food manufacturer, indicating the last day within the period when a food is considered to be of best quality. The Sell By date is set by the store; it indicates the length of time that the store must store food in a retail setting to be sold.
|What Does Use By Date Mean|
|Use by Date||This use-by date is not for safety. The product’s “Use-By” date indicates the final time it is advised to be used while it is still in optimum condition|
|Not safe for Infant||Except for when applied to infant formula, as explained below, it is not a safety date.|
|Freeze By||A product’s “Freeze-By” date specifies when it should be frozen to maintain its highest quality.|
The Sell By -date is geared more towards retailers, telling them when they should be rotating products off their shelves. Sell-by dates are probably most common with eggs, since a few states require these types of labels, and sell-by dates are set at some number of days after eggs are laid and packaged, in order to ensure stores regularly rotate stock.
Sell-by dates are used only by retailers, to help them keep more accurate track of inventory when products are on shelves, just like shelf-dead dates. Usage By dates and Best Before dates (as well as Sale By dates and Display By dates) are often confusing, but once you understand what the differences are, it is easier to remember. For meat, poultry, and egg products that fall under the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) jurisdiction, dates can be applied on their own initiative, provided that they are not misleading and are labeled according to the rules set forth by the FSIS. Product dates, according to FSIS, a component of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), are not guidelines for safe use — with the exception of infant formula and baby food.
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FDA regulations require this date to be clearly marked on the infant formula package, since after this date, the infant formula should not be given to children anymore. The “Used By” date on baby formula Baby formula refers to the date the manufacturer is able to guarantee that both the quality and nutritional composition of the formula is safe for your child. The use by date represents the last day that the manufacturer advises you to use the product due to quality concerns.
The Bottom Line Food dating labels can be incredibly confusing, often only referring to the point in time at which a product is not going to be in the best possible condition.
Otherwise, be sure to store items in the original packaging so that the dates are kept, or be sure you have a good labeling system in place to ensure that you are cooking your chicken or other foods at peak freshness. Eggs kept in their original packaging, as well as in a cooler section of the refrigerator, should remain safe for consumption three to five weeks after they are purchased, even if their “use-by” dates are past. Check package instructions to make sure that foods are freezer-friendly, particularly ready-to-eat foods.
Once frozen, it does not matter if the dates are past, as foods kept frozen are safe for an unlimited period of time. Food that is not refrigerated correctly — either at home or in a store — does not last nearly as long, no matter what the freshness date says. For sale-by dates past the home, you may be able to keep food longer, depending on what it is. You will see sell-by dates on foods that will quickly expire, like meat products or salads that are ready-to-eat.
Use-by dates are used for foods that are very perishable (will probably spoil quickly and are at risk of making people sick).3 This includes fresh meat, fish, dairy products, fruit juices, and other chilled, ready-to-eat foods. The best before dates are applied to frozen foods, fresh foods such as milk and eggs, and products with long shelf lives such as cookies and canned foods. While the system works well with best before dates, best before dates also do not always give us any indication of the quality of the product. To make sure that you are getting fresh produce, it is essential that you carefully examine the package and buy items that have recent dates.
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Many people, and even food stores, assume the best-by date is the same as expiration date, although often foods are still completely safe after their printed dates. Keep in mind, when a package says instructions like to use within three days of opening, that food still needs to be eaten before its best-by date, even if it is been opened for less than three days. Show caption Hide caption The shelf life on a food does not mean that it is going to spoil Sometimes, it is easier to throw out a food past the shelf life rather than risk food poisoning. Food is usually safe for consumption past its sell-by date, but may start to lose taste or visual appeal.
Does use by means it’s expired?
This use-by date is not for safety. The product’s “Use-By” date indicates the final time it is advised to be used while it is still in optimum condition. Except for when applied to infant formula, as explained below, it is not a safety date. A product’s “Freeze-By” date specifies when it should be frozen to maintain its highest quality.
How good is something after the use-by date?
To ensure that your food retains its quality and freshness, it is advised that you do not buy items that are past their “best by” date. This expiration date is often used for perishable baked products. Consumption beyond this date does not guarantee any freshness of the product, although it may still be edible.
How accurate are use-by dates?
The ‘use-by’ dates indicate only the freshness of the goods. In other words, the expiration date does not mean that food expires in the sense of becoming inedible. Consuming unrefrigerated foods beyond the use-by date will not make you sick as there is no change in flavor or quality.