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NYC Votes to Repeal Outdated Code Date Requirements

Sep 24, 2010

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene voted this week to repeal the city's outdated code date requirements, known commercially as sell-by dates, for milk. Once the repeal goes into effect, processors selling in the New York City market will no longer be restricted to nine days for pasteurized milk and 45 days for ultra-pasteurized milk.

"The code date requirements were decades behind the technology that's now available for both pasteurization and packaging," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president for regulatory affairs. "With the repeal, inventory control will be much easier for processors already selling in the city. Others, who stayed out of the market because they didn't want to conform to overly strict and unnecessary standards, will be encouraged to look at this as a new market opportunity."

According to Frye, pasteurized milk usually has a shelf life of anywhere from 14 to 28 days, much longer than the nine days allowed by New York City. She expects consumers will also benefit from the change, because the actual code date may allow them to keep milk longer, provided it's held at the recommended refrigeration temperature of 35-40 degrees F.

Once the outcome of the department's vote is officially published, there will be a 30-day waiting period before the repeal takes effect. IDFA anticipates that the waiting period will likely expire no later than November 1, 2010.

Many states have no code date regulations, leaving it up to processors to determine the dates to use. Others have performance-based standards, where processors must demonstrate through quality testing that the product lasts as long as the code dates state.

For more information, contact Frye at

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