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August 2001 Issue

Deciphering Dates on Food Products

Q. What exactly does the "use by" date on a product mean? A. It means the product will keep well until that date, if unopened. But once a food has been opened, all bets are off, because the risk of contamination and bacterial growth come into play. There are no federal laws governing package dates, with the exception of infant formula and some baby food. Only about half the states even require dating of some packaged foods. Unopened, dated products—especially dry, packaged

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