Guidelines to ensure safety while dating
"Use-by" dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates.
Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.
If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as "sell-by" or "use before." There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States.
Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has some type of open date and other areas where almost no food is dated. Open dating is found primarily on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
See the accompanying refrigerator charts for storage times of dated products. If product has a "sell-by" date or no date, cook or freeze the product according to the times on the chart below.
"Sell by Feb 14" is a type of information you might find on a meat or poultry product. Does it mean the product will be unsafe to use after that date?Here is some background information which answers these and other questions about product dating. "Open Dating" (use of a 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.