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Old 05-26-2013, 01:44 PM   #1
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ISO information on Best By/Use By dates on foods

I am curious about best by or use by.

I know I have used stuff like a month over the best by date and I never got sick. For use by I try to stick close to the exact date maybe a few days over.

Is there any exact or close to exact date that the best by date should never be used over.

Or maybe I am not asking the question not quite correct is the date labels just one in the same and can be used interchangeable.... and nobody really knows when the exact day/time a food should never be used over/ it should be thrown out.
I would imagine the date labels are just guilds but how good are they on average. With factors like different temperature refrigerators , altitudes , cleanliness of surrounding surfaces , transport , location , how grown ,...etc...
I would imagine the labels could fluctuate a lot depending where you are in the world.

Question 2
I am wondering who puts the labels on the package and when in the food process. ( that would also be a major factor )

Is it retail store , distributor ,...who

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Old 05-26-2013, 01:50 PM   #2
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In some cases, for perishable foods like milk, the dates are more important. For other items such as canned goods, the issue is not spoilage so much as loss of quality.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:55 PM   #3
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I think the food gets labeled at the time it is processed and packaged. Fresh foods like milk and meats will spoil while other canned and frozen foods can last longer. Andy has the right idea. "best by" usually indicates when the quality will be optimal and the "use by" dates usually indicate when spoiling will be noticeable.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:56 PM   #4
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so how much over can you push an item usually then with out it hurting you in any way. (as well as providing some nutritional value)
Plus is there a difference in the labels best by and use by normally?

Gotcha on canned products how about the frozen ones like frozen fruits or vegs , as well as frozen meats like fish , chicken , turkey , pork , beef , shrimp ,...etc
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Old 05-26-2013, 02:02 PM   #5
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I can't suggest how much over is OK.

With frozen foods, a lot depends on the packaging. If you pick up a package of chicken breasts from the supermarket display case (for example) and toss it in the freezer, I wouldn't leave it for more than a week. The chicken is packaged with lots of air pockets so freezer burn becomes an issue with longer storage. If, on the other hand, you repackage those breasts using a food saver, then it will be fine in the freezer for quite a long time (measured in months).
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Old 05-26-2013, 02:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
I think the food gets labeled at the time it is processed and packaged. Fresh foods like milk and meats will spoil while other canned and frozen foods can last longer. Andy has the right idea. "best by" usually indicates when the quality will be optimal and the "use by" dates usually indicate when spoiling will be noticeable.
What about the lag time between processed and packaged from harvest and transported to be processed/packaged ? Won't that play a role in determining how long it will be good til approx.

A sub question to the above is how close when harvesting 2 of the same items from the same place will keep the same amount of time?

For best by does that mean you can eat it indefinitely for the most part just losing taste/nutritional value but not harming you in a bad way
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Old 05-26-2013, 03:20 PM   #7
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Assume there are various times from harvest to processing and that those variances don't effect the finished product.

Nothing lasts forever, so quality will continue to deteriorate over time. At some point it may become harmful to your health.

I don't recommend playing food storage roulette. Make your purchases such that you aren't constantly faced with this issue.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam111 View Post
I am curious about best by or use by.

I know I have used stuff like a month over the best by date and I never got sick. For use by I try to stick close to the exact date maybe a few days over.

Is there any exact or close to exact date that the best by date should never be used over.

Or maybe I am not asking the question not quite correct is the date labels just one in the same and can be used interchangeable.... and nobody really knows when the exact day/time a food should never be used over/ it should be thrown out.
I would imagine the date labels are just guilds but how good are they on average. With factors like different temperature refrigerators , altitudes , cleanliness of surrounding surfaces , transport , location , how grown ,...etc...
I would imagine the labels could fluctuate a lot depending where you are in the world.

Question 2
I am wondering who puts the labels on the package and when in the food process. ( that would also be a major factor )

Is it retail store , distributor ,...who
In the UK the labels are put on by the manufacturer or if packed in store by the store themselves and "Use by..." means "throw it away if you don't use it by that date" and "best by..." means "eat by theat date to get it at it's best quality but it won't go off very quickly".

With the latter you can use the product well after the date shown if it has been stored properly.

With the former ie the "Use by" date, on some products you can use a modicum of common sense. Manufacturers tend to be very circumspect about their "Use by" dates (probably so they won't get sued!) but you need to use your common sense and your eyes and nose, although be careful because food infected with botulism - a very dangerous food poisoning organism - often don't smell bad. If a product is mouldy, fizzing, smells bad or is discoloured, even if within its "Use by ..." date throw it away as it isn't worth the risk. I wouldn't use dairy products, eggs or fresh meat or in a damaged can or packaging after the "Use by.. "date.

I don't know about the US but in the UK a huge amount of food is thrown away annually because of "Use by" and "Best by" dates and deterioration. A wicked waste when half the world's population is starving. "Buy one get one free" offers are great but not where the free one gets thrown away because it's passed its date or it's gone "off".
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam111 View Post
What about the lag time between processed and packaged from harvest and transported to be processed/packaged ? Won't that play a role in determining how long it will be good til approx.

A sub question to the above is how close when harvesting 2 of the same items from the same place will keep the same amount of time?

For best by does that mean you can eat it indefinitely for the most part just losing taste/nutritional value but not harming you in a bad way
The manufacturers and packers have to take this into account when giving a date.
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