Health-conscious consumers are paying closer attention to the numbers and dates stamped on the bottom of their favorite cereals, canned goods, packaged snacks and even fresh produce. But what do all these numbers really mean?
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Most U.S. food companies stamp lot codes and/or expiration dates on their products. There are two types of codes:
There is little government regulation when it comes to expiration dates stamped on packages. Therefore, don't treat expiration dates or lot codes with a "one-size fits all" approach.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, there are a few different types of dates you should look for:
FOOD PRODUCT TLC
When you're shopping for food, be sure to examine the packaging for dents, tears or broken seals. No matter what the date on the outside of the package says, there are ways you can care for products to help maintain their shelf life. Temperature, humidity and light can all affect the quality of a product, especially when it comes to meat, dairy and other highly perishable products.
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