Turkey  Product Dating Codes

Turkey Recipes and Information: Turkey Basics
Understanding the Product Dating Codes
and Shelf Life for Turkey
Baked Turkey! Yum!

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Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving: Entertaining; by Lou Pappas; Published: September 2005

A date stamped on a product's package, known as "open dating," uses a calendar date to help the supermarket operator determine how long to display perishable foods, such as turkey and other proteins.

There are several types of dates that might be found on turkey packaging:

  • A "Sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Consumers should buy the product before the date expires.

  • A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or food safety date.

  • A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

For a consumer to ensure that turkey and turkey products retain top quality, the following tips should be considered:

If product has a "Use-By Date," follow it.
  1. Check the "Sell-By Date" and purchase the turkey products before the date expires.

  2. Take the food home immediately after purchase and refrigerate it promptly under 40° F. Place turkey in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which could be either the meat/poultry drawer or the bottom shelf. Leave products in store packaging prior to use.

  3. If there isn't a meat / poultry drawer place a plate / tray under the turkey to prevent drips on other foods. Store on the lowest shelf in your refrigerator. Keep raw turkey separate from cooked foods.

  4. Follow handling recommendations on product.

  5. Freeze it at 0° F., if you can't use it in the times recommended. Once a perishable product is frozen the expiration date becomes irrelevant and you should follow the storage guidelines. (Click here for more information)

Refrigerate fresh, uncooked and processed turkey products at 40° F or below.

© 2004 National Turkey Federation
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Related Topics:
· Turkey Information
· Little Known Facts About Turkey
· Turkey Basics: Turkey Purchasing Pointers
· Turkey Basics: Turkey Storage Advice
· Turkey Basics: Product Dating Codes
· Turkey Basics: Turkey Thawing Hints
· Turkey Basics: Boning Raw Turkey
· Turkey Cooking Techniques
· Giblets

· More Turkey Recipes and Information

· Cookbooks at Jessica's Biscuit®
· Cookbooks at


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