How to Read Expiration Dates
Expiration dates, also known as “best before” dates, give consumers an indication of when food products will no longer be safe to eat. However, these dates are often printed in a cryptic code, which can be confusing to read and interpret. To understand expiration dates, it’s important to know the different terms used and how to interpret them. Read on to learn how to read expiration dates and make sure your food is safe to eat.
Types of Expiration Dates
There are two types of expiration dates printed on food products: “sell-by” dates and “best if used by (or before)” dates. The first type is printed by manufacturers to inform retailers of when the product should be sold or removed from shelves. These dates are not always visible to consumers and are not necessarily an indication of when a food product is considered to be safe-to-eat.
On the other hand, “best if used by” or “best before” dates typically indicate the condition or quality of a product, not whether or not it is safe-to-eat. In most cases, it is safe to consume food after these dates have passed, although the quality may not be as desirable.
Interpreting Expiration Dates
Expiration dates can be printed in several different ways and can be quite confusing to interpret. To make matters more confusing, some states have specific laws governing the labeling of food products. For example, some states require manufacturers to include an expiration date as part of their product labeling. However, in other states, this is not required and manufacturers may simply include a “best if used by” date on the package.
In general, manufacturers use one of the following three forms of dates on their products:
- Month/Day/Year (MM/DD/YY)
- Day/Month/Year (DD/MM/YY)
- Shortened code (e.g. BB MM DD YY)
It’s important to keep in mind that the implied shelf life on food products can vary depending on the manufacturer, product type, and storage conditions. In most cases, food products are safe-to-eat up until the date printed on the package. However, it’s always best to carefully read and interpret the expiration date to make sure you’re getting the most out of your food.
Reading and interpreting expiration dates may seem complicated at first, but it’s important to take the time to understand the codes used. With a bit of practice, you should be able to accurately read and interpret expiration dates in no time. By understanding expiration dates, you’ll be able to make sure your food is fresh and safe to consume.