News from CRIS: Expiring Products - Food & Ingredients

April 21, 2020

Did you know foods, even shelf-stable foods like flour and canned foods, can expire? In this post, the Center for Research on Ingredient Safety covers the basics around food and ingredient expiration dates.

Do all foods and ingredients expire? 

Most foods and ingredients expire or become unusable at some point in time, with few exceptions.

Are all foods and ingredients required to have an expiration date legally? 

Neither the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires foods and ingredients to contain expiration dates, use by dates, or other sorts of quality identifying dates for any foods and ingredients other than infant formulas (1,2). 

Food and ingredient manufacturers often include production dates, optimal consumption dates, and/or spoilage information, that information is legally required to be factual. However, companies may use different terms and take different approaches to share this information based on the products they produce.  

While this can be confusing, there are industry efforts to streamline and standardize the language used to describe food optimal use dates. 


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