Current State of Food Product Open Dates in the U.S.

Eastern Research Group, under contract with FDA, conducted this study of food product open dates. The information in this study was sought through literature reviews, multiple in-store surveys of food products and discussions with industry personnel and trade organizations. The survey universe consists of 149 product categories covering baked, dairy, frozen, refrigerated, shelf-stable, and chilled ready to eat food products.

In addition to examining the current regulatory and industry framework under which manufacturers currently operate, this study also provides quantitative information on the current practices on different types of food labeling in the United States. Furthermore, the study includes a comprehensive analysis of industry practices on shelf life testing and decision criteria used in open dating to better qualify the observed results and to further evaluate the potential consequences of adding or modifying open dates on food products.

The last section of this study provides a summary of recent studies on consumer food handling and storage practices, as they are relevant to how consumers may interpret different product open dates.

The manufacturers survey and the food products survey are in Microsoft Access format and can be downloaded along with the study documentation from the link above.

Date added to October 2003
Pub. date from document: July 18, 2003