The Meaning Behind Food Product Dates and How Useful Are They to the Consumer

Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not generally required by U.S. Federal regulations. There is also no universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the U.S where much of the food supply has some type of date, and other areas where almost no food is dated.

Dates on packaged foods alert the consumer, the store and the manufacturer as to the quality of the food product. These dates are not safety dates and do not automatically mean the product is no longer safe or is spoiled in some way. After the date passes, the product should still be safe if it was handled properly, although the longer you keep it after that date, the greater possibility of spoilage.
If the package does have a date it will most likely have one of the following:

o “Sell-By” date tells the store the last day the product should be offered for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires and only hold it for two or three days beyond this date if it is well refrigerated.

o “Best if Used By (or Before)” and “Best Before End” date is directed at the consumer by the manufacture guaranteeing the best freshness, quality, flavor etc.

o “Use-By” date is directed at the consumer and is the last date recommended for use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer, packer or distributor of the product.

o “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers used by the manufacturer. These codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers, might refer to the date or time of manufacture. They aren’t meant for the consumer to interpret as “use-by” dates. There is no book that tells how to translate the codes into dates.

o “Packed on” dates are sometimes found on canned and frozen food. This date indicates the packaging date and is generally not useful for the consumer.

o “Expiration” or “Exp” is the last date on which a product should be used – similar to the “Use By” date.

Even though products may still be useable after the date, I still recommend not purchasing or using any food product that has passed its “Use by'” or “Sell by” date. The manufacturer actually does not want you too either. They want you to continue purchasing their product and if you have a bad or less than expected experience then there is a good chance you are not going to buy that product again.

If you must use or consume the product for whatever reason, just examine the food closely, using all your senses in the following order (this is assuming the packaging is still intact and has not been damaged, dented or bloated in any way):

1. Does the product look good or normal? No abnormal colors, growth, fluids or coating of some unusual matter.

2. Does the product smell out of the ordinary or just spoiled?

3. If it passes the first 2 tests, then lastly taste a small portion (assuming the product is not a raw meat, poultry, seafood or other product that requires cooking first). Is there any out of the ordinary flavor or sharp or strong taste that is not normally present?

If any of these out of the ordinary characteristics are present, then by all means dispose of the product in a safe manner – wrapped up tightly for disposal so others will not be able to get to it.

Smart Food Shopping Using the Food Nutrition Facts Label

A great tool for your arsenal of weapons to overcome obesity in kids is the Food Nutrition Facts Label found on all packaged food. There are many diet plans that advertise losing several pounds in a matter of weeks or months. There are also diet pills, lotions, body wraps, and surgery available for excess body fat.

However, the best way to lose weight remains in maintaining balanced and nutritious eating habits. This ensures that you will not only have the proper weight but also are healthy and fit. This is where the Food Nutrition Facts Label comes in.

You must develop some smart grocery shopping habits if you’re going to prevent child obesity. One great tool for this is to learn how to read the label on the back of every product package.

The Food Nutrition Facts Label shows how many servings are contained in each food package. It will show you the caloric content along with other nutrients.

Here are some things you should look for when reading the Nutrition Facts Label on the package:

Calories and other nutrients in each serving. One food package may contain two or more servings. The Food Nutrition Facts Label will tell you how many servings are there per package. It will also indicate how many calories and other nutrients there are in every serving. Compare similar products in order to choose the one with the most nutrition and lower calorie count.

Source of calories. Remember that not all food with high calories should be avoided. Calories may come from fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Look at the source of calories in the food product along with the vitamins and minerals. Then decide if it’s going to help you prevent child obesity in your family.

Sugar content. Names of added sugar to watch out for include, but are not limited to: corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, honey, lactose, sucrose, and various kinds of syrup. The healthiest way to prevent obesity in kids is to avoid the added sugar found in processed and ready-made food.

Fat content. Bad fat includes saturated and trans fat, and cholesterol. Keep in mind, however, that you can still buy food with unsaturated fat because this is good fat that helps decrease the cholesterol level in the body. You should look at the total fat content of each package and opt for those that contain only 20-35% total fat in order to prevent child obesity.

Fiber. Eating food high in fiber is important. Fiber will make you feel full so you won’t have to eat larger portions at mealtime. It helps move cholesterol out of your body, regulates bowel movement and helps in food digestion.

The Food Nutrition Facts Label also helps you count your daily calories as well as providing information about nutritional content. Everybody has different caloric needs. Gender and age make a difference. But generally you will lose one pound of weight per week if you buy and consume foods that total less than 3,500 calories per week.

Remember that in your effort to lose weight you should avoid a drastic reduction of calorie intake. You need a healthy, balanced diet where losing weight is done gradually while still maintaining body nutrition.

The best way to lose weight and prevent child obesity entails knowing what is in the food that your family eats. Reading the list on the Food Nutrition Facts Label before buying is a good way of ensuring that you are consuming healthy nutrients and avoiding foods that are unhealthy and fattening.

All the best to you and your family,
Ed Guerena

Computer Use in the Food Manufacturing Industry

Food manufacturing and processing is one of the success stories of the global economy. Food production is now not just a local industry as food products are now transported across the globe allowing a huge variety of products to be available on our supermarket shelves.

One of the reasons for food productions success has been the embracing of modern technology that has allowed many processes in the food production industry to be automated.

The food industry does pose unique challenges when it comes to automation and computerisation such as the prevalence of water in food production areas. Various laws and good working practices mean that food production areas are regularly washed or hosed-down. This can cause obvious problems to computer or touchscreen if they are used nearby as water will have catastrophic effects on any computer system.

Many food production of manufacturing areas turn to waterproof computer enclosures to protect their computer systems from wash down. Industrial computer enclosures are designed to international guidelines to ensure they can operate safely in washdown environments with the waterproof PC enclosure even allowing the systems to be hosed down themselves.

The European IP 65 or International NEMA 4 rating system are often used to describe the waterproofing of a computer enclosure. Many wash down areas contain IP 65 computer enclosures as they can also be manufactured out of food grade stainless steel ensuring they don’t corrode and can continually be kept clean.

Waterproof LCd enclosures and waterproof touchscreen enclosures can also be manufactured from the same material.

How Marketing Cat Food Products Impacts Kittie’s Health and Your Wallet!

Perhaps because cats are soft and cuddly, cat owners have a tendency to pamper them silly with a ‘more deluxe’ mindset when it comes to purchasing cat food products. While your kitty will doubtless enjoy and benefit from his cozy pillow bed and to-chase toys, when it comes to diet, you’ve got to be a little more health conscious for his sake. Let’s take a look at how marketing cat food products influences you, Kittie’s guardian, and how certain marketing techniques might adversely affect your cat’s health.

Left to their own devices, cats, being hunters by nature, tend to track down rodents and birds, as available. As unpleasant as the visual may be, do you know that cats consume their prey in a rather undiscriminating manner bones, tails, feathers and all. Most cat owners don’t exactly enjoy watching such a demonstration, as Kitty indelicately lunches on one of these small creatures. Nonetheless, this is how wild cats survive.

Now, at the other extreme, you’ve surely seen the TV ads promoting cat food products which are supposedly eaten by only the upper crust of cat civilization, served up in crystal dishes. The only thing missing is Kitty’s white linen napkin, tied around his royal neck.

So where should the emphasis be? Duh. Probably on a well-balanced cat food product, which gives Kitty – and you – the best assurance of a long, healthy life, at least in terms of his dietary needs.

Cats are well known to be finicky eaters, but they weren’t born that way! (Think natural habitat.) Most cats who are introduced to canned cat food (the more odoriferous, the better), soon become those poster cats for finickiness. The kibble type of food is typically more nutritious and helps keep their teeth sharp. How about a happy medium? A mix of kibble and a bit of the smelly stuff should make any cat a happy diner. If you start them off on this type of eating program at an early age, the less likely they are to become cat food snobs.

At the same time, all cat food products are not the same, in terms of nutritive value. Your best bet is to consult your vet. Vets know the dietary requirements of cats and can steer you to some good brands, or tell you what to look for when shopping for cat food products.

Now, in the case where you have a cat that has learned to turn up his nose at almost everything, all is not lost! You can train your cat to eat what you put on his plate… if he doesn’t like the nutritious and even smelly meal put before him, he’ll learn to adore the nutritious cat food products you provide when he’s hungry. This is not cat cruelty, it’s a reality check!