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The quality of perishable products may deteriorate after the date passes; however, such products should still be safe if handled properly.

Consumers must evaluate the quality of the product prior to its consumption to determine if the product shows signs of spoilage. Open dating is found on most foods including meat, poultry, egg and dairy products.

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).

[Top of Page] What are the Requirements for Dating Infant Formula? Consumption by this date ensures the formula contains not less than the quantity of each nutrient as described on the label.

In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed.

When spoilage bacteria have nutrients (food), moisture, time, and favorable temperatures, these conditions will allow the bacteria to grow rapidly and affect the quality of the food.

Food spoilage can occur much faster if food is not stored or handled properly.

Viruses are not capable of growing in food and do not cause spoilage.

There are two types of bacteria that can be found on food: pathogenic bacteria, which cause foodborne illness, and spoilage bacteria, which do not cause illness but do cause foods to deteriorate and develop unpleasant characteristics such as an undesirable taste or odor making the food not wholesome.

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