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The date does not correspond to the date by which the product must be consumed to ensure food safety; rather, the date is indicated for product quality.Open dating is typically found on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.Egg cartons with a USDA grade shield on them must display the “pack date,” or date that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton.

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The codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers, can refer to the date or time of manufacture. Some cans also display open dating, which usually are “best if used by” dates for peak product quality.According to the USDA, “In general, high-acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored on the shelf 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years – if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.” Egg Carton Dating: Pack date indicates freshness While the use of a “sell-by” or expiration date is not federally required on egg cartons, such labeling is required by some state laws and is not allowed by other state laws.If an open date is shown on a product, both the month and day of the month (and year for shelf-stable and frozen products) must be displayed on the product packaging.Immediately adjacent to the date a phrase explaining the meaning of the date such as “sell by” or “use before” must be displayed.USDA advises consumers to use eggs within three to 5 weeks of purchase, and states, “The ‘sell-by’ date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use.” UPC Use: Scanning for price, inventory, and marketing Universal Product Codes (UPC codes), or bar codes, appear on most packaged product labels because scanners can “read” them quickly to record the price of the product.

UPC codes are used not only for pricing, but to help manufacturers record inventory levels and track sales for marketing purposes.

More than 20 states require dating of certain foods, but other states do not require any food dating.

Department of Agriculture (USDA), there is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States.

Food, such as meat, left out at room temperature for more than two hours could become unsafe, even if the date on packaging hasn’t expired.

In the case of infant formula, if stored too long, it can separate and clog the nipple. Do not buy or use baby formula or baby food after its “use-by” date.

Can Codes: A tool for recalls and inventory control Food cans must display packing codes to enable tracking in the event of a recall.