Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Diet and Nutrition

Orange Juice Expiration Dates

08/09/1999

Question:

Why is there an expiration date on bottled Orange Juice? If kept refrigerated and unopened, what is the potential danger of drinking juice which is past the expirtation date?

Answer:

Very interesting question...

Product dating is not required by Federal regulations, with the exception of infant formula and some baby food. Currently, there is no uniform method of food dating in the US.

Open dating (which includes a calendar date of the month and day of the month) is used to help the store know how long to display a product for sale. This also lets the consumer know the time limit to buy or use the product at its best quality.

This is NOT a safety date. If a date expires during home storage, the food should still be safe and of good quality as long as it is stored and handled properly (kept at 40` F or below). Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are an exception. Their shelf life is much shorter than other packaged products.

The use-by date is chosen by the producer, packer or distributor of a product. This is based on product analysis during shelf life tests or under conditions of storage, handling, preparation and use on the label.

If a food develops a foul odor, flavor or appearance, it may be due to spoilage bacteria. In this case, you should not use it because of poor quality. So, unless the orange juice you mention smells or tastes funky, it should be safe to drink after the "expiration" date.

Foodborne bacteria and foodborne illness can develop if a food is mishandled (even if the date on the package has not expired). For example, if you brought a block of cheese to a party and it sat out all night on a table with crackers, it wouldn`t be safe to eat the next day. Typically, a perishable food should not sit out at room temperature for longer than 3-4 hours.

Defrosting a food for more than 2 hours at room temperature, or food handled by people not using correct sanitary practices can also lead to foodborne illnesses.

In order for consumers to store and use food while it is top quality, follow these tips:

* Buy products before the date expires * If perishable (meat, dairy foods, produce), refrigerate promptly or freeze if not used within the safe time of using it. * Poultry, ground beef or ground poultry is good 1-2 days after purchase * Beef, veal, pork or lamb is good 3-5 days * Uncooked sausage (beef or pork) is good 1-2 days after purchase * Cured ham (cook before eating) is good 5-7 days after purchase * Eggs are good 3-5 weeks after purchase

I hope this information was helpful. For more information on product labeling, check out the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) website below.

Related Resources:

FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service)

For more information:

Go to the Diet and Nutrition health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati