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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.

For meat, poultry, and egg products under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), dates may be voluntarily applied provided they are labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and in compliance with FSIS regulations.

To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month.

Except for infant formula and baby food, product dating is not generally required by federal regulations.

"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

In some regions, an advisory best before, mandatory use by or freshness date is required on packaged perishable foods.

Shelf life is the recommended maximum time for which products or fresh (harvested) produce can be stored, during which the defined quality of a specified proportion of the goods remains acceptable under expected (or specified) conditions of distribution, storage and display.

The Open Date Group is a world leader in the innovative design and manufacture of On and Off-line Coding, Marking and High Speed Overprinting systems for use on most kinds of flexible packaging materials and labels.