What do the date labels mean?

Take home message

US retailers and consumers waste 30 - 40% of the food.

Part of the waste is due to confusion about the meaning of dates.  It has been estimated that 91% of the US citizen do not understand the meaning of the dates and consequently discard wholesome food.

Food products, except for infant formula, are safe to consume past the date an the label.

Regardless of the date, consumers should evaluate the food quality prior to consuming it. Spoiled foods develop an off odor, flavor, or texture due to microorganisms.  Spoiled food should not be eaten.

Rusted, dented, or swollen cans should be discarded.


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American Heart Association. Understanding Expiration Dates
US Food and Drug Administration Food Product Date.