Shelf life depends on the degradation mechanism of the specific product.Most can be influenced by several factors: exposure to light, heat, moisture, transmission of gases, mechanical stresses, and contamination by things such as micro-organisms.
The food labeling system in the United States is a complete mess.
Foods can be labeled “healthy” regardless of how much sugar they contain.
According to the USDA, "canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to freezing temperatures, or temperatures above 90 °F (32.2° C). In most food stores, waste is minimized by using stock rotation, which involves moving products with the earliest sell by date from the warehouse to the sales area, and then to the front of the shelf, so that most shoppers will pick them up first and thus they are likely to be sold before the end of their shelf life.
This is important, as consumers enjoy fresher goods, and furthermore some stores can be fined for selling out of date products; most if not all would have to mark such products down as wasted, resulting in a financial loss.
"The date is irrelevant to food safety."He introduced the bill in the Senate, while Rep.
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced identical legislation in the House.
Most expiration dates are used as guidelines based on normal and expected handling and exposure to temperature.
Use prior to the expiration date does not guarantee the safety of a food or drug, and a product is not necessarily dangerous or ineffective after the expiration date. High-acid canned foods (tomatoes, fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods (meats, vegetables) for 2 to 5 years. A product that has passed its shelf life might still be safe, but quality is no longer guaranteed.
Take, for instance, the existence of omnipresent expiration labels.
Most consumers assume that these labels are guidelines for the date after which it’s unwise, or potentially unsafe, to eat that particular food product. There are no federal standards for expiration dates, except for baby formula, and best-by or sell-by date have no basis in science — instead, they’re a manufacturer’s best guess for when the food is likely to be freshest, or at peak quality.
The lawmakers today introduced legislation to establish a uniform national date labeling system in order to reduce confusion, simplify regulatory compliance for companies, and reduce the waste of food and money.