There are certainly a lot of questions about expiration dates. As such, here the answers to 3 frequently asked questions about them.
Q: Is it illegal for grocery stores to sell expired products?
A: It is not illegal for grocery stores to sell expired products. In fact, with the exception of baby formula and baby food, the FDA doesn’t even require expiration dates to be included on food packaging. Some states do however have specific regulations on products such as dairy and fresh meat. The main reason expiration dates are carried on products is for quality purposes. For example, if you have ever had freshly made potato chips you know that they taste far better than the ones you get in a bag. The same is true for chips that are freshly bagged and those that have sat on the shelf for several years.
Q: What is the difference between different titles before expiration dates such as best used by dates?
A: There are several different terminologies used to describe the dating of food products:
- Expiration date: This is the LAST day that you should eat an item. It may be good after this date, but we DO NOT recommend that you eat it or sell it if you are a grocer.
- Sell by: This is a quality date that tells grocer’s the last day that they should offer an item for sale to customers. Buying a product that is past the sell by date may not be a good idea as the quality will not be as high.
- Best used by dates: These dates refer to quality not to a date on which the product is unsafe. Essentially, past this date manufacture’s no longer guarantee freshness.
- Guaranteed fresh by: These titles are most commonly used on bakery items.
- Pack or Born On dates: As you can guess, these refer to the dates in which the products were packaged or created. The time frame in which these items should be consumed varies. You won’t need to worry about expired canned food with packed on dates for at least a year, but other products may not last as long. We recommend that you call the manufacturer if you are concerned that a product is unsafe or if you are a grocer and are unsure if you should be selling the product anymore.
Q: Are products safe to eat past their expiration dates?
A: As we mentioned above, many “expiration dates” such as best used by dates simply refer to a peak quality point. As such, many products are safe to eat after that point. However, how long they are safe truly depends on the product. If you are worried, use the sniff test. If a product smells spoiled then you should throw it away.
Click here to visit a site that provides more information on expiration dates as well as charts on specific items and how far past their printed dates they are safe to consume.
If you have any additional questions on expiration dates, feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer them.
Shelf life management is certainly no easy task. There are only so many labor hours available and there are A LOT of expiration dates to be checked. As such, decisions need to be made based on where the most “bang for your buck” occurs. It would make sense that the majority of expired product issues arise in the perishables with the shortest shelf life such as fresh meat, dairy, and produce. On top of the fact that these items have short shelf lives, they also bear the biggest risk for getting a customer sick if they are sold past the best by date. Even if all expired item shrink of these products were eliminated, you would still need to account for the loss on center store goods.
Expired canned food and other center store items account for roughly 1/3 of expired item shrink. This may be hard to believe since a simple glance at any of these items would tell you that most items in a grocery department won’t expire for at least a year. However, due to their longer shelf lives, center store items are largely neglected in a shelf life management plan. That is because far greater quantities of these items are carried, which makes checking their expiration dates quite difficult.
So the question is how to even begin to reduce shrink on these items? The most common method is product rotation which is done every time a product is stocked or in a cycle. This method eliminates a majority of expired product issues on center store items, but requires three touch points:
- Pull off old stock
- Place new stock in back
- Put the old stock in front
As you can see, this method requires a large amount of labor hours.
Another common method is spot checking. Using this method, items are checked by section according to a schedule. This method requires less labor hours than product rotation, but is less effective at eliminating the sale of expired canned food because items will expire in between the scheduled spot checks.
The latest method of managing expired products is Date Check Pro. This software combines the effectiveness of product rotation with the time efficiency of spot checks. By tracking inventory expiration dates, Date Check Pro targets spot checks by item. Items are then rotated when checked so that any items nearing expiration can be sold before an issue arises.
Further efficiencies exist within Date Check Pro including location filters which allow for more efficient work flow, department settings, and labor hour requirement predictions.
If you know of any other methods feel free to comment below.
If you have never heard of Date Check Pro, you probably have several questions like “What is Date Check Pro?” “How does it help?” and “Where did Date Check Pro come from?” Well, read on my friend, read on!
If you have ever worked as a grocery stocker, you know the pains of product rotation and checking for expired products, and you probably thought to yourself, there has to be a better way! Last summer our founder, Andrew Hoeft, thought the exact same thing. So, he created a prototype of Date Check Pro which ended up saving the company he worked for $140,000 in the first year in labor time alone. Then, after being admitted into 94 Labs incubator program, Pinpoint Software, Inc officially came into existence with the funding needed to create Date Check Pro. Click here for the full story: https://www.datecheckpro.com/about.
Now, Pinpoint Software, Inc. is proud to introduce Date Check Pro, the industry’s first software as a service (SaaS) expiration date management software! Date Check Pro allows grocery stores and other retailers to save significant time and money while easily and efficiently managing the expiration dates on products in the entire store.
Date Check Pro tracks inventory expiration dates on a per product basis allowing stores to be proactive in managing their inventory. This system allows stores to quickly and easily locate products nearing expiration. Once identified, expiring products can then be pulled from the shelves and sold at a discounted price or sent to reclaim centers. Then, within a few days of expiration, this system will identify these products again so they can be removed from the sales floor if necessary. Date Check Pro, which runs on mobile tablet technology or mobile phones, is easy to understand and use, making it an extremely cost effective way to manage inventory. It is also available on a standard laptop or personal computer.
Benefits of Date Check Pro include:
- Reduce product shrink from expired products
- Increase customer satisfaction and safety
- Reporting analytics on yearly, seasonal, or short term shrink per SKU
- Accountable expiration date tracking that outlasts employee turnover
- Easy to implement and use, no extra staff is required