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If foods are mishandled, foodborne bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness — before or after the date on the package.
If perishable food is in the “danger zone” (above 41° F or below 135° F), for four hours or more, discard it.
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.” Believe it or not, 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.
“Closed” or “coded” dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.
In the food service environment, always look for the dates on our perishable foods on the outside of the case at the receiving step.
“Date Marking” in the FDA Food Code & Listeria — At the restaurant level for on-premise preparation, there are specific requirements for re-labeling perishable foods, once the package is opened or ready-to-eat foods are prepared onsite.In a restaurant at the receiving step or the retail food store as a consumer, “Sell by July 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?