Food Product Dating Terms
The labeling on a package of hot dogs may contain one of several different types of dates. Product dating is voluntary and not required by Federal regulations. If a date is used, it must also state what the date means.

* "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
* "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for use of the product while at peak quality. This date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
* "Best if Used By (or Before)" date helps consumers by stating a precise date for best flavor or quality.
* "Expiration Date" helps stores and consumers by stating the shelf-life or the last day product should be used while it is wholesome.

Safety After Date Expires
Except for "Use-By" dates, product dates don't refer to home storage and use after purchase. If a "Sell-By," "Best if Used By (or Before)," or "Expiration Date" date expires during home storage, a product should be safe and wholesome if handled safely and kept at 40 F or below.

Source: FSIS, USDA

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