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A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. For best quality, you should buy the product before this date.
These dates cannot be relied upon as an indicator of food safety because there are too many variations in transportation and storage conditions. If foods are mishandled, foodborne bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness — before or after the date on the package. For example, if hot dogs are taken to a picnic and left out several hours, they will not be safe to use later, even if the date hasn't expired.
· Purchase the product before the date expires.
· If perishable, take the food home immediately after purchase and refrigerate it promptly. Freeze it if you can't use it within the recommended timeframe.
· Consult the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication “Better-Safe-Than-Sorry Food Storage Chart” for a detailed list of food storage times.
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