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In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed.

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This post summarizes the key points of the guidance. USDA estimates food loss and waste at 30 percent of the food supply lost or wasted at the retail and consumer levels.

One source of food waste arises from consumers or retailers throwing away wholesome food because of confusion about the meaning of dates displayed on the label.

If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.

Microorganisms such as molds, yeasts, and bacteria can multiply and cause food to spoil.

Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them must display the “pack date” (the day that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton).

This number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365.Food products are safe to consume past the date on the label, and regardless of the date, consumers should evaluate the quality of the food product prior to its consumption.Please contact Erik Lieberman at [email protected] 202.830.0300 for additional information.To reduce consumer confusion and wasted food, FSIS recommends that food manufacturers and retailers that apply product dating use a “Best if Used By” date.Research shows that this phrase conveys to consumers that the product will be of best quality if used by the calendar date shown.Foods not exhibiting signs of spoilage should be wholesome and may be sold, purchased, donated and consumed beyond the labeled “Best if Used By” date. Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.

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