Who requires and regulates dating on foods?

The federal government requires dating on infant formula and some baby foods. These must be removed from the shelves by their expiration date. The federal government also requires that eggs with a USDA grade shield must have a “sell by” date no later than 45 days after they were packed. In addition, the federal government mandates that 1) when a date is used on a product, it must include both the month, the day, and also the year if the product has a long shelf life; and 2) next to the date, there must be a phrase (such as “sell by” or “use by”) that explains what the date means. Most other requirements concerning food dating are state requirements. More than 20 states have such requirements, primarily on dairy products, meat, and poultry. Most other product dating is voluntary, put on by the manufacturers. In some areas of the country, a lot of foods are dated, in others only a few are.
USDA Fact Sheets “Food Product Dating”

Ethel Tiersky said, "The federal government requires dating on infant formula and some baby foods. These must be removed from the shelves by their expiration date."

The first sentence is true.

If the second sentence means to say that there is a federal saying outdated products must be removed from the shelf, I would like to know what law that is. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that outdated products should be removed from the shelf, but I haven't found any law that says it is required.

I would like to know about any federal or state law that requires the remove of outdated infant formula from store shelves.

Also, can anyone tell me what is done with outdated formula? Is there any published information on this?

Aloha, George kent


Here is an answer from Karin Allen, PhD, one of our Advisory Board members: 

"The FDA requires that the use by date on infant formula be based on manufacturer testing showing that the nutrients are stable for that length of time. While there is no specific wording in the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act requiring retailers to remove past-date formula from the store shelves, the FDA does consider it a violation of the Act.  In a recent Notice to Retailers (see attached), the FDA stated that because past-date formula may contain fewer nutrients, it would be considered adulterated and subject to seizure.  They urged retailers to better educate their employees, and also to ensure that past date formula was returned to the manufacturer.  Regarding that returned formula, I couldn’t find any published description of how it is disposed of by the manufacturer. For consumers that have expired formula, many animal shelters will accept unopened cans.  If it’s opened, throw it away or compost it (if you don’t mind the smell)."


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