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Confusion with "Sell-by" dates and FDA standards

c
Crankyrobot Apr 2, 2013 05:23 PM

OK, I bought a chicken roaster about a week and a half ago. I had every good intention of roasting it, but life gave me lemons and they weren't for the slicing.

So I have it, it's two days after the sell-by date. Now most places say you can use it within this period safely, but FDA standards often say that fresh poultry should be used within 2 days of bringing it home. It also says this on the brand's website. "If bought before the sell-by date, use within 2 days."

But I don't get it...isn't it just sitting at the grocery store refrigerated? Why do I have to use it in two days if it's just going to stay in the same conditions at the grocery store until that "sell-by" date?

Also, should I eat this thing?

Sorry if I sound like a total dumdum.

  1. b
    Brandon Nelson Apr 3, 2013 08:20 PM

    The sniff test is the most reliable method.

    At work I know how long a piece of meat, fish, or poultry has been out of refrigeration, minutes.

    Once it leaves the store its temp is anybodies guess. I have customers tell me they will be home with that chicken in 2 or 3 hours sometimes. That is a long time for it to be at room temp.

    The use within "2 days" considers that John Q Public doesn't handle that chicken with the same attention to safety that wholesalers and retailers do.

    1. c
      Crankyrobot Apr 3, 2013 02:42 PM

      I guess my biggest problem is that I was vegetarian for a really, really long time. I stopped about 8 years ago, but there are some kinds of meats I still haven't cooked (like whole chicken roasts) and I often still feel completely clueless. Honestly, I'm lucky I'm even still alive.

      I smelled it, it smelled OK. But I did some anxiety-inducing internetting and realized that it was a 'better safe than sorry' moment and tossed it.

      It was probably fine, and now I feel wasteful and will have to do some karmic favors to make up for it.

      Wasan - I agree, or they should just say "EAT IT WITHIN 48 HOURS OR FREEZE IT WHEN YOU BRING IT HOME".

      I'm a fan of clarity.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Crankyrobot
        o
        ohmyyum Apr 3, 2013 03:29 PM

        I was vegetarian for over 10yrs (vegan for a few of those) and I too, have not been able to bring myself to make a roast chicken. I've just started making boneless skinless chicken breasts.. Baby steps.

        1. re: Crankyrobot
          g
          GH1618 Apr 3, 2013 04:08 PM

          "... They should just say ..."

          That is what the FSIS recommends. I don't see what the confusion is about. It's perfectly clear to me.

          1. re: GH1618
            c
            Crankyrobot Apr 4, 2013 07:49 AM

            Right, but I'm talking about the package. The package is what is not clear.

            1. re: Crankyrobot
              g
              GH1618 Apr 4, 2013 04:21 PM

              The FSIS recommendations for handling chicken are a couple of pages long. It is not reasonable to expect chicken packers to put everything you need to know on the label. Commodity food does not generally come with onstructions. The most efficient way to disseminate the information is through the FSIS, and nowadays you can easily print their recommendations and add them to your kitchen handbook.

        2. w
          Wawsanham Apr 3, 2013 02:08 PM

          Maybe the easiest would be to go back to the term "expiration date"--if I remember, it was the most commonly used expression on perishables some years ago. If you've passed that date, you know it's no good--you can avoid these semantic games with "best before" or "best by" or "use by".

          1. g
            GH1618 Apr 2, 2013 09:33 PM

            It's the USDA-FSIS that publishes the recommendations on handling chicken. The FSIS does recommend using chicken within two days of purchase. The label you quote seems consistent with this.

            The FSIS recommendations are conservative. They probably do not expect refrigeration temperatures to be as closely monitored as they should be in a commercial environment. And chicken is usually not refrigerated in transit from store to home. Also, the "sell-by" dates are not regulated, so can't be factored in by the FSIS.

            They are just recommendations. Keep your chicken properly refrigerated and cook it properly and you should be fine.

            1. ipsedixit Apr 2, 2013 09:09 PM

              As I've said before here, I use "sell by" and "use by" dates like I do horoscopes.

              For entertainment purposes only.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit
                fldhkybnva Apr 3, 2013 05:48 PM

                Yes, use your senses. I rarely have ever looked at a sell by or use by date.

              2. j
                JayL Apr 2, 2013 08:19 PM

                Have you put your nose to it?

                If the thing smells good, cook it and look back.

                What did you used to do before they started putting dates on your food? LoL j/k

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