Use by “xx/xx/xx” date
Sell by “xx/xx/xx” date
Best by”xx/xx/xx” date
Some items like baby foods have a date that is mandated by the government.
Otherwise, the date on the package is up to the discretion of the food producers. For that reason, many food producers conduct shelf life testing to determine a “freshness date” to post on their products.
Food dates should serve as a guideline for consumers and it really is up to the consumer to look at the food, feel the texture of the food or smell the food and note any warning signs which could signal that the food is fresh or not.
Hopefully, down the road a new standard will be in place that will help make this issue of dates a little, less confusing.