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Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. Your first impulse is to throw it out, but wait! Is it still good? Chances are it is! Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat.

As a general rule, distributing and recipient agencies should use a first-in-first-out FIFO system of inventory management by marking food cases or other containers with the date of receipt at the storage facility. However, distributing and recipient agencies should also note food product dates provided by the manufacturer. Products marked with the earliest end date e.

Distributing and recipient agencies must manage their inventories to ensure that recipients have an opportunity to consume donated foods before product end dates have passed. The following paragraphs describe the meaning of some product dates that may be found on food products, including donated foods, in accordance with FNS regulation and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service guidance. Some products, however, may not have dates printed on them. In such instances, distributing and recipient agencies should maintain records of when products are received and exercise effective inventory management and proper storage practices to ensure wholesomeness.

Any of these dates could appear on retail or donated foods; however, they are not directly related to food safety.

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If handled properly, the donated food could still be wholesome and safe to consume beyond these dates until the food exhibits signs of spoilage, such as changes in odor, flavor, or texture. If handled improperly, the foods could lose quality prior to the date marked on the package. In order to ensure optimum quality, donated foods that have passed such dates should not be distributed to program recipients.

Importantly, program recipients should have the opportunity to consume all donated foods before product end dates have passed.

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For example, some donated foods such as canned items may contain manufacturing dates which indicate when the products were manufactured.

Certain donated fruits and vegetables, such as canned or frozen peaches, pears, green beans, and corn, may contain pack codes or a date of pack instead. Foods with pack codes or a date of pack are packed shortly after harvest and may be delivered throughout the following year or until the next harvest season.

Thus, distributing and recipient agencies may receive product packed or manufactured in the previous year e. Packing or manufacturing dates should not be interpreted the same as best-if-used-by or best-if-used before dates.

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While they may help determine the age of a product, these codes do not necessarily provide useful information on product wholesomeness or nutritional value.

As described above, for products that only have packing or manufacturing dates rather than best-if-used-by dates, distributing and recipient agencies should maintain records of when products are received and exercise effective inventory management and proper storage practices to ensure donated foods are distributed to program recipients in a timely manner and in optimal condition. Out-of-condition donated foods should not be consumed nor distributed regardless of product dates or when the foods were received.

If there are no visible defects but there is a question as to the wholesomeness of donated foods, the distributing or recipient agency must have the foods inspected by state or local health authorities, as necessary, to ensure the donated foods are still safe. After the date expires, it may lose flavor or quality, but it would still be safe and you should not have to throw them out.

Hello, I'm trying to locate a expiration or best by date on a bag of walnuts. Janet Sayre Hoeft - thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we do not have printer-friendly versions of the documents linked here. A good source for alternative storage charts would be your local health department.

Food Product Dating "Sell by Feb 14" is a type of information you might find on a meat or poultry product. Are dates required on food products? Does it mean the produc t will be unsafe to use after that date? date appears on a carton bearing the USDA grade shield, the code date may not exceed 45 days from the date of pack. Food Product Dating Document ID: FSIS-GD Date of Issuance: December 14, The guidance provides information about label dating on products regulated by FSIS, including descriptions of types of dating, whether dating is required by Federal regulations, and whether a product may be unsafe to use after a listed date. Oct 01,   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not require quality or food safety date labels for products under its purview. However, the USDA does require a "pack date" for poultry products and thermally processed, commercially sterile products to help identify product lots and facilitate trace-back activities in the event of an outbreak of.

You can find the phone number by conducting an internet search for the county health department or at this website: go. Ask to speak to a food sanitarian.

Marciana Morales - thank you for your comment. Dating is not federally regulated or required. For quality, we recommend to use this product within weeks of purchase. After that, the quality may begin to decrease. However, if it looks OK and smells OK, it would still be safe to eat. We hope this helps.

Debbie - thank you for your comment. For quality, it would be best to use commercially packaged orange juice within 10 days of opening.

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Glad to see this in writing. I have believed this for a long time about the quality of the packaged food still being edible.

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The time frame is the part I did not understand before reading this article. Kathy - thank you for your comment.

Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label. "Open Dating" is a calendar date applied to a food product by the manufacturer or retailer. The calendar date provides consumers with information on the estimated period of time for which the product will be of best quality and to help the store determine how long to display the. Jun 27,   Jarred food is safe to eat beyond the date printed. These dates are intended to identify when the product will be of best quality and flavor. After the date expires, the product may lose flavor or overall quality but, it would still be safe. For more information on dating, check out our Food Product Dating fact sheet. I hope this helps! Nov 21,   Product dates found on retail and donated foods are not federally regulated and can have a variety of definitions. Food manufacturers may voluntarily provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality, but these dates are not an indicator of wholesomeness or food .

We would not recommend to use this as it may not be of great quality any longer. We recommend to use this product by the date printed on the jar for best quality. If used outside of that date, as long as it is in good condition meaning no obstructions to the jar, lid fully secured, and kept it cool conditionsit would still be safe however, it may lack flavor and quality. I hope this helps.

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My 22 yr old thinks that once something hits that magic best by date Very useful article. I have an unopened jar of coconut butter well, I opened it today expiration date of Sept Is it still safe to eat? Andrea - thank you for your comment. Jarred food is safe to eat beyond the date printed.

These dates are intended to identify when the product will be of best quality and flavor. After the date expires, the product may lose flavor or overall quality but, it would still be safe.

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For more information on dating, check out our Food Product Dating fact sheet. Micheline - thank you for your comment. Dried beans are considered non-perishable.

Meaning no matter how long you have them, they will not spoil. For freshness and quality however, this item should be consumed within years if kept in the pantry.

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I have an unopened package of fig pieces from USDA lot What is the use by date for the figs. How can you tell if the canned beef from the government commodity program is still good if you have had it for awhile and there is no expiration date on it? Judy - thank you for your comment. Commercially canned goods are safe indefinitely.

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As long as the can is in good condition no dents, bulging, rust or leakage the product is safe. Tammy Veasley - thank you for your comment. Did you purchase or was it given to you frozen?

If the chicken was bagged in and kept frozen the entire time, it would still be safe. If it was a fresh product and frozen within days of purchase, it would also be safe.

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If you are unsure if the product was handled safely, we would not recommend to consume. June - thank you for your comment. We recommend to use dried beans within 2 years from date on package. After that the quality decreases. Larry Douglas - thank you for your comment.

Dating except for infant formula is not federally regulated.

1. Food Date Labels and Product Distribution Guidelines. Federal, State and Local Laws. Federal Law: There is no federal law regulating food dates. Food Product Dating Author: USDA FSIS Subject: Food Safety Education; Food Labeling Fact Sheets Keywords: education and outreach, food safety education, consumer education, food labeling, food product dating, open dating, sell-by date, use-by date, food storage Created Date: 9/19/ AM. Warning No content found for: ?fsis-content/internet/main/topics/food-safety-education/getanswers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food.

It is regulated and enforced per state requirements. It would be best to consult with your State Department of Health to find this information. However, i only realized after that it has no expiry date and the bar code is very different from the usual bar code listed for each country. The teabags are properly packaged and it smells freshly picked. But i am not sure about it because it gives me a headache after drinking.

Can you please tell if this product is safe to consume. Gerauna - thank you for your comment. Please reach out to them for further assistance.

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You can reach them at: Ben Weaver, thank you for this information - but you did not answer the question posed by "Laura" What is the requirement to keep or toss food? Do food pantries really HAVE to throw out food when it hits or approaches the printed date? It seems awful to me to toss out food when people are hungry and could use it.

In my home, we frequently use products past the date. Are there printed guidelines for food pantries?

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Pat - thank you for following up. Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality. With an exception of infant formula, if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident.

Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten. You can download and print our Food Product Dating fact sheet to reference later, here: go.

Ben, I understand what the dates mean.

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I find that to be, quite frankly, irresponsible I would like to know if the government has actually issued such a mandate to organizations that run food pantries. Pat - thanks for clarifying, Pat.

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Dating is not required by Federal law therefore there are no rules or regulations requiring food pantries or related entities to toss food when the date has expired however, your local or state department of health may.

When it comes to requirements and laws for food pantries, each state makes their own. It would be best to further consult with your state or local department of health.

I hope this clears things up. Ben, you have been so helpful.



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