Applications and perceptions of date labeling of food

Rosetta Newsome, Chris G. Balestrini, Mitzi D. Baum, Joseph Corby, William Fisher, Kaarin Goodburn, Theodore P. Labuza, Gale Prince, Hilary S. Thesmar, Frank Yiannas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Open dating of food products has been practiced for decades, and has been key to achieving stock rotation at retail and providing information to consumers. The open date provides a simple communication tool, which may be based on product quality and/or food safety as determined by the manufacturer or retailer. Date marking is generally open but it can be closed (code intended for managing product at retail, and for recall and traceability), and the terminology and applications vary widely around the world. The variation in date labeling terms and uses contributes to substantial misunderstanding by industry and consumers and leads to significant unnecessary food loss and waste, misapplication of limited resources, unnecessary financial burden for the consumer and the food industry, and may also lead to potential food safety risk in regards to perishable foods. A "use by" or similar date cannot be relied on to indicate or guarantee food safety because absolute temperature control of food products throughout the food supply chain cannot be assured. This paper provides an introduction to the issue of food product date labeling and addresses its history in the United States, different terms used and various practices, U.S. and international frameworks, quality compared with safety, adverse impacts of misconceptions about date labeling, and advantages of technological innovations. Collaboration to develop a simple workable solution to address the challenges faced by stakeholders would have tremendous benefit. Conclusions include a call to action to move toward uniformity in date labeling, thereby decreasing confusion among stakeholders and reducing food waste.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-769
Number of pages25
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Code dating
  • Date labeling
  • Date marking
  • Open dating


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