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Product Dating Facts
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usda

Open Dating (use of calendar date as opposed to a code) on a food product is a date stamped on a product's package to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale.  It can also help the purchaser to know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality.  It is not a safety date.   Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not required by Federal regulations."  See website at www.fsis.usda.gov.  Once a perishable product is frozen, it doesn't matter if the date expires because foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely.

"Product dating is the most widely used means for consumers to determine when to purchase or use a food product at its best quality.  Dates stamped on packages also help the store determine how long to display the product for sale.  But according to the United States Department of Agriculture, these dates are not safety dates.  Instead, they should be seen as more of a good-faith promise of freshness."
Carol Lewis - Sept/Oct 2002 - FDA Consumer Magazine

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penn-dept-agr

According to the USDA and PDA, any grocery store may legally sell items past their freshness dates. "If it's out of date, we'll look to see if it's spoiled.  But just because it's out of date, we can't make them pull it".
Melissa White Food Program Manager – Lancaster Sunday News  Oct  2001

"There's nothing magical about a sell-by date. They're a guide just for quality. So the purpose of the date is to  help the consumer know that this product is intended to be sold during a certain time period.  They can be sold legally, according to USDA's laws, after the sell by date."
Jill Hollingsworth - NBC Dateline Interview

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Speaking about outdated products " These products are still safe and wholesome; a lot of time is built into these dates."
Karen Brown - Philadelphia Inquirer 4/24/03

gma

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage, and consumer product companies.   With US sales of  more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in 50 states.  Mandated sell-by  labels would "imply that certain food items are unsafe to eat after the specified date when they are, in fact, still safe because of rigorous processing and storage controls.  This would cause quality food products to be  unnecessarily discarded."
Susan Connelly - Letter in Opposition to New York Product Dating Labeling Bill

"The dates are not because of food safety, just for quality purposes."
Jennifer Walker, Director of Government  Relations -  Philadelphia Inquirer 4/24/03

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