FAQs on Food Product Dating

Shelf Life Advice answers all of your questions on Food Product Dating, food storage safety, food-borne illness, and more!

Do most consumers actually pay attention to the dating on foods?

The Sunday newspaper supplement Parade ran an article dealing with this very question. Here are some results of a poll the magazine conducted:


-33% of people ignore expiration dates

-40% will eat expired bread

-30% eat canned goods that are past the stamped date

-33% will eat anything that looks and smells okay even if it’s past the expiration date.



Parade. “What America Really Eats” by Lynn Schnurnberger, Nov.16, 2008.

Who establishes these product dates?

Some manufacturers have the equipment and staff to do it themselves. Others send their products to independent labs for testing. Experiments are performed to determine the nutritional information that must be on the label as well as the expiration date.

What if there is no date on a product, and I don’t remember if I bought it a month ago or ten years ago?

Call the manufacturer and ask for customer service. The code on the can, box, or package will enable the company to determine how long it’s good for.

Does the “use by” date matter once the product is frozen?

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