Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label. The calendar date provides consumers with information on the estimated period of time for which the product will be of best quality and to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale. Does Federal Law Require Dating? Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
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Cooking Skills How to Read a Date Code Store employees use "open dating," the calendar date on food packages, to decide when to pull an item from the shelf. For consumers, the date indicates freshness or quality. Use both the date itself and the phrase in front of the date, such as "use by" or "best by" to make your decision on which milk carton or cookie package to choose. Tips Take an extra second or two when taking foods off the shelves at the store so you can bring home the item with the longest use-by or best-by date available.
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Gail Sessoms Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies. Cans of pet food on the shelves. The federal government only requires expiration dates on baby foods and infant formula.