Where I learned that the "pull dates" on food items have nothing to do with food safety or health. (With one exception, see emphasis added below):
Does Federal Law Require Dating?Although experience says that the bread mix you found in the back of the pantry from 5 years ago may no longer have fully (or any) active leavening...
Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.
For meat, poultry, and egg products under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), dates may be voluntarily applied provided they are labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and in compliance with FSIS regulations. To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month. In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed. Additionally, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as "Best if Used By."
Are Dates for Food Safety or Quality?
Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality. Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.
What Date-Labeling Phrases are Used? There are no uniform or universally accepted descriptions used on food labels for open dating in the United States. As a result, there are a wide variety of phrases used on labels to describe quality dates.
Examples of commonly used phrases:
- A "Best if Used By/Before" indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.
- A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula as described below.
So the other evening at the emergency communication team meeting we were talking about "Go Bags" and Bug Out Bags. I took my Go Kit -- which is to say, my bag for CERT or ARES/RACES work, not my "Get Out Of Town" bag.
I also took my car kit in, to show a couple of thing in it. Now, my car kit is mostly a cheap packable rain suit, such as you find at a big box store, hat and gloves, reflective vest... It also has a package of Datrex Lifeboat rations. (Might have been another brand.)
And it was pointed out to me that "These are almost expired."
The packaging is intact, these are safe to eat.
"But they're almost expired!"