How is expiration dating done in food products?

If you are in need of a laboratory to perform expiration date testing, shelf life testing, stability testing, or other type of food or beverage testing, call us at 1-855-377-6821 or submit a request online!

grocery-storeDates on food products help not only stores but consumers determine how long the product will maintain its “best quality”. Food items sold or consumed after the “use-by” date that have been stored according to packaging recommendations should still be safe to eat, it will just not be the best quality. “Sell-by” dates or no dates mean products needs to be used or frozen within a reasonable time. You can view specific times by viewing the chart on the bottom of the USDA’s Food Product Dating page.

The federal government does not mandate product dating, with the exception of infant formula. However, many companies and products choose to date stamp products with a month and day anyway. If a food is dated, it must also include whether the date is a “sell-by” or “use-before”. Though there is no universally accepted system in the US for dating food, it is required in more than 20 states.

Perishable food items like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are most often dated with “sell-by” or “use-by” dates. Non-perishable and shelf-stable food items are often dated using coded dates or packaging numbers by manufacturers.

As food ages, chemical reactions change the nature of the product. Generally, heat speeds up these chemical reactions. Tests on food are done to determine how long and under what conditions a food product will maintain its quality. Contract Laboratory has helped facilitate many companies food stability and expiration determination tests, like:

  • Food Laboratory needed for nutritional bar testing of nutritional bars past expiration date.
  • Food Laboratory needed for stability testing of soup to determine expiration date.
  • FDA Laboratory needed for expiration date testing.
  • FDA Food laboratory needed for testing a bottled water for impurities, content, chemicals, plastic toxicity and the expiration date.
  • FDA Food Laboratory needed for nutritional labeling testing and shelf-life stability testing for artisanal cheeses to FDA Standards. Need to get 1) testing for nutritional labeling (FDA standards) 2) shelf life testing
  • Food laboratory needed for food colorant stability testing and comparison study of new natural colorant based of curcumin and betacorten to be used in pasta to check the stability of colorant for luminosity c using Suntest XLS+Atlas. The dry pasta in a cabin under a very strong light in a stable condition for 8 hours, and this represents 4 months in a regular conditions at the supermarket.
  • Food Laboratory needed for sushi rice pH and shelf-life stability testing.
  • Food Laboratory for stability testing of PiƱa Colada mix to extend shelf-life
  • More test requests can be seen here