product dating


There are several types of dates found on today's food packaging. Such dates are not typically safety dates, but are used primarily to assist purchasers in determining when a product is at its best quality and to help retailers determine display life. The term open dating refers to the use of a calendar date as opposed to a code. Closed (coded) dates are packing numbers used by the manufacturer to assist in rotating stock and tracking products. Pack date refers to when the product was packaged. Sell-by date advises the purveyor how long to display a product; shoppers should buy the product by that date or choose another one. The use by date, or best if used by (or before) date, is determined by the manufacturer and is the date after which the food is no longer considered to be at peak quality, though it certainly still should be safe to consume if handled properly. At this writing, the United States has no uniform food dating system, and the use of such dates can vary from state to state.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Product Review: Nike FuelBand

Tracking physical activity can help keep you motivated, but most calorie-counting knickknacks are famously inaccurate. Can Nike’s newest gadget get it right?

Product Review: TopChips Chip Maker

Potato chips from the microwave? We were pleasantly surprised when we gave this gadget a test drive.

Product Review: Sedona Food Dehydrator

There are tactics for food preservation beyond canning and pickling. With garden season approaching, I was excited to try out this nifty appliance.

The Kitchen's Tool Takedown Product List

Find out where to purchase the utensils featured on each of The Kitchen's Tool Takedown segments.

Product Review: Omega "Vert" Juicer

Looking to upgrade your juicer or start making fresh fruit and vegetable juice at home? Find out if the Omega Vert 350 is for you.

Staff Favorites from Food Network’s Product Guides for Summer

Food Network put together three Grilling Shopping Guides to help readers find all the right tools for summer parties — from gear and tableware to delicious sauces, condiments and more.

New Product Helps the World Do Butter Better

Say “toodle-oo” to torn-up toast. Someone has invented a product that sprays real butter.