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After these dates, Ganthavorn said, the product may not be at its very best, but it is typically still safe to eat if it has been stored and prepared appropriately.

The key is to follow safe food handling and storage guidelines.

And that’s before you consider “expires on,” “sell by,” and the dreaded date without a label.

(The study was conducted by Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, along with the National Consumer League.) Yet, despite that mess, 91 percent of Americans say they pay attention to date labels in making decisions on whether to eat something, according to a 2015 study out of Johns Hopkins.

Always discard foods that have developed an off odor, flavor or appearance.

You can also consult should buy the product before the sell-by date expires.

But you can still store it at home for some time beyond that date, as long as you follow safe storage procedures (check the Keep It or Toss It database for the shelf life of specific foods).

Quick quiz: After reading the above date label, do you: a) Check out the first few sentences to see if it’s any good b) Read without hesitation because you don’t trust date labels c) Click away very, very quickly If you answered a), you’re hopefully now learning that, of course it is! If you chose c), then you’re in the majority, as a recent national survey found that 84 percent of Americans throw away food based on the date stamped on packages.

On the other hand, perishable foods that have not reached the expiration date may not be safe to eat if they were not refrigerated properly.

The lone exception is “sell-by,” which tells retailers how long to display their items, but also doesn’t denote when the food will go bad. Because food can last well past its printed date, or not quite as long, depending on how it was stored.

A lack of information and misinterpretation of the dates on food labels leads to a tremendous amount of unnecessary food waste, said Chutima Ganthavorn, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Riverside County.

Accordingly, society (through government) mandates that food firms provide accurate information about their product to consumers so consumers can then make their decisions.

Much of this information is expected to be available at the time and place the consumer decides to purchase the food item. laws and regulations directing the labeling of food products. "Informed consumers are essential to the fair and efficient functioning of a free market economy.

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If the quality assurance date is used with unidentified code numbers, the date shall be at least the first three letters of the month followed by the day of the month.

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