"Best if Used By" is a type of date you might find on a meat, poultry, or egg product label. Does it mean the product will be unsafe to use after that date?
Here is some background information answering these and other questions about product dating. Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label.
Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.
[Top of Page] How do Manufacturers Determine Quality Dates?
Factors including the length of time and the temperature at which a food is held during distribution and offered for sale, the characteristics of the food, and the type of packaging will affect how long a product will be of optimum quality.
Manufacturers and retailers will consider these factors when determining the date for which the product will be of best quality.
A change in the color of meat or poultry is not an indicator of spoilage (The Color of Meat and Poultry).
Microorganisms such as molds, yeasts, and bacteria can multiply and cause food to spoil.
Viruses are not capable of growing in food and do not cause spoilage.
To reduce consumer confusion and wasted food, FSIS recommends that food manufacturers and retailers that apply product dating use a "Best if Used By" date.
Research shows that this phrase conveys to consumers that the product will be of best quality if used by the calendar date shown.