The lie of food expiration dates is a very misleading practice that can be very profitable for those that market expired food and prepare it for resale. This practice often takes place at retail establishments as well as processing plants. The lie is intended to increase sales by misinforming consumers about the actual date on which a food item is going to expire. In many cases, the lie is used to increase profits that the food business can make perishable items. While the process of aging food products can be extremely complicated, there are several steps that an establishment must take in order to meet the legal requirements for food expiration dates. The following article will discuss the specifics of these three important events in the food supply.
Food businesses must first understand that they are required to have a minimum of one day between when a food item is packed and when that food item actually expires. The first day of storage is referred to as a sell-by date. This date may vary from one food product to another. It is very important that food businesses take the time to ensure that they are correctly labeling each of their products based on the sell-by date that is stamped on the product. It is also important to understand that all food should be stored in an area where it will be readily accessible for consumers. The expiration date on the packaging may not be located prominently enough or may not appear at all on a product.
The sale and handling of food waste products are strictly regulated by each state. All food expiration dates are legally required to be met by virtually every food service facility in the United States. In order to meet this requirement, each food service facility must be properly labeling each of their product with the appropriate date. This requirement applies not only to food waste bins used during food preparation and serving, but to refrigerators, freezers, and other areas where food waste is stored or produced. In most states, food waste must be removed from the premises no less than 45 days after the date of purchase or storage.
Food expiration dates are intended to provide consumers with enough time to make alternative arrangements if necessary. In order to properly meet food waste disposal requirements, each food service facility should have an accurate and up-to-date inventory calendar detailing all food waste sales and purchases. A food service facility is not required to place any signs alerting customers to the expiration dates of food products. However, it is strongly recommended that the location be decorated to inform customers of the importance of properly storing food waste to reduce food spoilage and odor problems that may result from improperly stored food waste.
Properly storing food waste products can reduce food waste by up to 90 percent and can help reduce costs associated with food cleanup and spoilage. Proper storage and handling can also extend the shelf life of food products by an additional three to five years. Expiration dates on food packages do not always accurately represent the true date of expiration for most foods.
Most food service establishments are required to list the expiration dates on the packages of food they sell. Some foodservice facilities choose not to list food expiration dates because they feel that giving customers the opportunity to recognize when the food on their shelves has gone off the shelf is an unnecessary intrusion into their business. Foodservice facility owners also believe that listing expiration dates and other information on the outside of their packaging will make it more difficult for them to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements regarding the proper storage and handling of food. According to the EPA, the use of temporary storage containers for food is not prohibited if the storage containers are clearly labeled as “temporary food storage.”
The Lie of Food Expiration dates on packages and in ads are designed to influence consumer behavior. The purpose of these marketing campaigns is to instill in consumers a sense of urgency to buy food ahead of time or to encourage them to stock up on certain food items at the beginning of each year. According to the FDA, retailers often use food expiration dates as a “promotional” device to increase sales of particular items or make other food items seem more expensive. Foodservice operators who manipulate food expiration dates can circumvent the restrictions the FDA puts in place regarding advertising the expiration dates of food products.
The FDA advises consumers to check with the foodservice establishment where they bought their food to determine what food expiration dates were packed. If a retailer lists food expiration dates on the package or online, consumers should verify the dates with the store manager. In addition, foodservice operators should keep food stored at room temperature and avoid storing food near refrigerator doors or in dark, cool areas. The Lie of Food Expiration dates is designed to increase sales and to create profit. To avoid falling prey to the Lie of Food Expiration dates, foodservice operators should follow the FDA’s requirement that they obtain food service sanitation certification every two years.