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Understanding Expiration Dates: Is This Meat Still Good?

via Bobby Parrish
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Food package labels use a variety of date labels that can be confusing for consumers. This summary provides definitions and guidelines for common date labels on meat products and their implications.

“Sell by” dates indicate when a product should be removed from store shelves but it can still be safe to consume for 1-3 days afterwards.

“Use by/Freeze by” dates specify the last day a fresh product is safe to use or the date by which it should be frozen for longer storage.

“Packaged on” dates require the shortest storage time of 3-7 days depending on packaging.

“Expiration dates” clearly list the last safe day of use. Processed meats like lunchmeat opened from its package should be consumed within 7 days.

Following date and storage guidelines helps ensure safety while reducing food waste.

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