Product Dating: Foods generally have dates on them that are based on quality and not food safety. Acceptance of product after these dates is acceptable, as the food is still safe to eat.
Date on Package (DOP) may refer to dating used by distribution center operations in its movement of the product. Such dating may originate from the actual package or case carton and refer to the Sell By, Use By, Best By, or Expiration date of the product.
DOP may also refer to a distribution center’s internal dating or tagging of product in relation to the product movement through the supply chain, and may be used to determine any threshold dating as to when the product should be removed from inventory, and reviewed for disposal.
“Sell by” which is a date defined by the manufacturer or retailer as the last date on which their temperature sensitive foods should be sold;
“Use by” which is a date that has a similar definition for temperature sensitive products but is also used on shelf stable products as a quality measurement.
“Best by” which is a date generally used on shelf stable products and is based on quality, not food safety.
Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
Infant formula Dating Requirements:
Federal regulations require a "Use-By" date on the product label of infant formula under inspection of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consumption by this date ensures the formula contains not less than the quantity of each nutrient as described on the label. Formula must maintain an acceptable quality to pass through an ordinary bottle nipple.
The "Use-By" date is selected by the manufacturer, packer or distributor of the product on the basis of product analysis throughout its shelf life, tests, or other information. It is also based on the conditions of handling, storage, preparation, and use printed on the label. Do not buy or use baby formula after its "Use-By" date.
Please also refer to the FSIS USDA Link for additional information on dating.
Please refer to each area’s specific guidelines as there are variances based on dating guarantees and specific product types within each storage temperature type.
** General salvage dating guidelines are as follows:
Up to 30 days after the DOP for Dry categories
Up to 10 days prior to the DOP for Fresh/Chilled categories
Up to the DOP on the package for Frozen categories