Factors including the length of time and the temperature at which a food is held during distribution and offered for sale, the characteristics of the food, and the type of packaging will affect how long a product will be of optimum quality.
Manufacturers and retailers will consider these factors when determining the date for which the product will be of best quality.
To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month.
Foods not exhibiting signs of spoilage should be wholesome and may be sold, purchased, donated and consumed beyond the labeled "Best if Used By" date.
[Top of Page] Safety After Date Passes With an exception of infant formula (described below), if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident (Chill Refrigerate Promptly).
"Best if Used By" is a type of date you might find on a meat, poultry, or egg product label. Does it mean the product will be unsafe to use after that date?
Here is some background information answering these and other questions about product dating. Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label.
The quality of perishable products may deteriorate after the date passes, however, such products should still be safe if handled properly.
Consumers must evaluate the quality of the product prior to its consumption to determine if the product shows signs of spoilage. Open dating is found on most foods including meat, poultry, egg and dairy products.
For example, sausage formulated with certain ingredients used to preserve the quality of the product or fresh beef packaged in a modified atmosphere packaging system that helps ensure that the product will stay fresh for as long as possible.
These products will typically maintain product quality for a longer period of time because of how the products are formulated or packaged.
To illustrate this, consider that "a.m." and "p.m." are abbreviations for "ante meridiem" and "post meridiem," which mean "before noon" and "after noon," respectively. Also, midnight is both twelve hours before noon and twelve hours after noon.