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What Types of Foods Need To Be Date Marked?

What Types of Foods Need To Be Date Marked?

Date marking is a crucial tool used by restaurants and stores that sell food. This legally enforced rule ensures food safety and prevents foodborne infections and illnesses from spreading to consumers. Businesses must mark certain foods with a date to comply with the law. While most food items need these markings, not all do. Explore the basic food marking requirements listed here to learn what types of foods you need to date mark and what types don’t.

What Is Date Marking?

Date marking is the process of marking certain food packaging with a date using an industrial marking printer. Restaurants and grocery stores use this tool to identify how old food items are so they can dispose of expired foods appropriately and avoid spreading dangerous bacteria to their customers.

What Foods Need Date Marking?

What types of foods need to be date marked? There are several. These include:

  • Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods. These foods derive from an animal, whether raw or partially or fully cooked. Examples include eggs, milk, meat, and poultry.
  • Ready-to-eat foods that don’t require additional preparation. These are foods that consumers eat directly out of the package.
  • Pre-prepared food that requires heating prior to consumption.
  • Foods that require refrigeration for freshness.

These foods need a “use by” or “prepared on” date. Establishments should discard these items exactly seven days after preparing or opening them.

What Foods Don’t Require Date Marking?

For foods that don’t fall into the categories above, date marking isn’t necessary. There are also a few exceptions to the TCS rule. You don’t need to date mark pre-packaged deli salads (even if they contain animal products), most semi-soft and hard cheeses, cultured dairy, preserved fish, and fermented meats.

Things That Change the Marked Date

Combining, heating, or freezing foods can impact their use by date. If you combine two date-marked foods, the “use by” date of the oldest food becomes the “use by” date of the mixed food. If you reheat cooled or frozen food, the date marking clock restarts, giving the cooked food seven days of holding time. Freezing food, on the other hand, pauses (but doesn’t reset) the clock. If you store a product regularly for three days, then freeze it, it will last an additional four days for seven days total after thawing.

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