Food safety is not an issue in product kept on the shelf in moderate temperatures (75 degrees Fahrenheit and below).
The acid content of the food and the lining of the can are important factors in a product's quality and appearance after long periods of storage. Once a perishable product is frozen at the proper temperature, it does not matter if the date expires because food kept frozen continuously is safe indefinitely.
Some use a product code that is not able to be deciphered.
[Top of Page] Are Retailers Allowed to Sell Products Beyond the Expiration Date on the Package? Many processed and packaged foods are shelf stable, which means that they do not require refrigeration until opened.
Yes, as long as a product is wholesome a retailer may legally sell fresh or processed meat and poultry products beyond the expiration date on the package. These items are often referred to as non-perishable for these reasons.
Their shelf life is evaluated in terms of the quality of the product.
- Open Dating - The most common form of dating is referred to as “open dating." Open dating uses a calendar date, as opposed to a code on a food product.
Common examples include "Sell by", "Best if used by” and "Use by." Open dating is not a safety date.
These codes, which appear as a series of letter and /or numbers, might refer to the date or time of manufacture.
They aren't meant for the consumer to interpret as "use-by" dates.
Food quality deals with the taste, texture and nutritional value of food.
The FDA does not require and expiration date for shelf-stable foods, since the storage time for these foods is a quality issue, not a food safety concern.
Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color or texture.