Ask Your Reasor’s Registered Dietitians: Package Dates & Product Claims

Posted on October 19th, 2017


This particular note stems from a question we were recently asked by a customer, Christine: “What do the dates printed on canned foods mean? Can I eat the food if it’s past the printed date?” Here is an easy guide to assess what those dates mean:

  • “Sell-by” indicates the date by which a store can no longer display the product as for sell. The product should be purchased before this date.
  • “Best if Used by” or “Use-by” indicates the date recommended for best flavor or quality. The product should be used before this date.

This milk has a “Best-by” date and should be consumed by the date indicated (March 2nd)

We also wanted to take a moment to define nutrition buzz words and product claims:

Calorie Free – Less than 5 calories per serving Low Calorie – 40 calories or less per serving Light or Lite – ⅓ fewer calories or 50% less fat per serving; if more than half the calories are from fat, fat content must be reduced by 50% or more per serving

Fat Free – Less than 0.5 grams fat per serving 0 Trans Fats – Less than 0.5 grams trans fats per serving Low Fat – 3 grams or less fat per serving Cholesterol Free – Less than 2 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Sodium Free – Less than 5 milligrams sodium per serving Very Low Sodium – 35 milligrams or less sodium per serving Low Sodium – 140 milligrams or less sodium per serving

Sugar Free – Does not contain added sugar (these products often times contain artificial sweeteners) Low Carb – Not legally defined by the FDA, a marketing term used to indicate a serving of food has a small amount of carbohydrates or fewer carbohydrates than a similar serving of food. Often times, low-carb foods have higher fat and/or protein content than their counterparts.

Gluten Free – Free of gluten, which is a protein found in certain grains such as barley, bulgur, durum flour, kamut, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, and wheat.

This bag of veggie chips is labeled both as “Gluten Free” and as “Non-GMO”

High Fiber – 5 grams or more fiber per serving

Organic – Grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation. Organic animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. Non-GMO – Has not had its genetic material artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering.

Content was originally published as a Facebook note for Reasor’s Healthy Living on February 16, 2017.

Sydney Cavero-Egúsquiza, MS, RD/LD is a Reasor’s Registered Dietitian, and she enjoys nutrition Q&A! Sydney offices out of the Bixby Reasor’s, and she also provides dietitian services at the Reasor’s at 71st & Sheridan and the Reasor’s in Sand Springs.

Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.