Food safety is the most crucial aspect of the success of any food outlet. A reputation for poor food safety measures is a surefire to bring a food manufacturing unit or restaurant to its knees. One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and improve food safety is to understand the concept of food safety labeling and dating. Practicing this concept in the food industry can help food outlets know how long a product is safe to use. This article discusses everything one needs to know about date labeling food products.
What is Meant by Food Product Date Labeling?
Food product date labeling refers to the date labels found on the packaging. Although the location of the date and manufacturer date or expiry date might vary, the purpose of mentioning these dates is to inform the consumer or preparer about how long the food product will be fresh enough to consume.
Which Foods Need Food Date Labels?
The concept of food safety labeling and dating should be adopted for all types of foods (unless they are unopened and already have a supplier’s date code). This is an essential food safety control measure specified by the health department. Having a date label on food products helps prevent the sale and consumption of out-of-date and potentially dangerous foods. Additionally, it also helps with good stock rotation practices, such as first-in and first-out, which further reduces food wastage.
Choosing the Suitable Food Date Labels
Try to find a simple shelf-life label that effectively uses ambient, frozen, chilled, prepared, defrosted, and opened foods. Complicated date labeling systems with different types of labels can be confusing. Color-coded day-of-the-week labels are pretty popular. However, they are suitable for foods prepared in-house. These labels are frequently applied inconsistently, with some chefs using them for the day of prepping and others using them for the day of discarding.
When choosing date labels, choose the ones that are suitable for freezer use and will not fall off. In addition to this, make sure that they are peelable and easy to remove before washing to prevent duplicate labels and unhygienic residues from being left on the food containers.
What Information Should be Included on the Food Date Label?
The following given information should be included on the food date labels:
- Name of the item that is being stored in the container
- The date of manufacturing or preparing it or added to the storage
- The date when the food item should be used or disposed of by
Date labeling for food storage
When considering food safety labeling and dating practice, always remember that it requires special attention. All food items that require time and temperature control (TCS) should be labeled considering the following mentioned points:
- The common name of the food itemDate on which the food item was made
- Date till which the food item can be used
Usually, the TCS food products can be kept for around seven days when stored at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If TCS food is not used for these seven days, one should discard it.
Date labeling for cold and hot food products without temperature control
It is always recommended to date label the food products that are not being monitored for temperature control. the following points should be considered when labeling such foods:
- The common name of the food item
- The time when food was removed from the refrigerator
- The time when food needs to be discarded
People should sell or serve cold and hot foods within six and four hours, respectively. One should discard the leftover cold food six hours after taking it out from the refrigerator. And the leftover hot foods should be discarded after four hours.
Utilizing food safety labeling and dating practices can help simplify the organization of the stock and inventory. Date labels help in removing doubt which further prevents food wastage and reduces the cost associated with that waste. Also, these labels prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses as consumers will be aware of the time when a particular food product can be consumed.