Do you think you can trust the expiration date printed on your favorite beer cans and bottles? We've done the research and are here to tell you - you're not getting what you think you're getting! Find out how you may be drinking beer past its prime, and what the push for a national "packaged on date" standard could mean for the future of your beer consumption.
National “Packaged On Date” Standard: Are You Getting the Freshest Beer?
Would you buy dairy or meat that was past its prime if offered? We are willing to guess the odds for a resounding ‘no’ on that question. Well, you might be getting such products when it comes to beer, but even worse, you don’t even know it.
Without any established national Packaged On Date standard, beer producers are in a grey area when it comes to listing when exactly a batch was sealed. Without regulation, many producers take advantage of what laws allow, making your beloved beverage stale and the taste more than substandard.
It’s right in the name - a Packaged On Date standard would specify when exactly a batch of beer was packaged. This would help breweries and other producers to easily and clearly label the product, and it would give customers a completely accurate indicator of a beer’s freshest possible taste.
A standardized system of labels would help drinkers to read the stale-date of the beers they are buying, letting them know exactly when the beer is past its prime, and the taste is likely not what the many craft brewers aim for their product to be.
Well, for starters, there are no federal laws regarding the labeling of packaged food, as ludicrous as it may sound. As a result, beer producers can hide the true age of their product without customers even being aware of it. Without any legal repercussions, many brewers took advantage of this grey area, becoming negligent on how they label the beer’s freshness.
Craft breweries tend to be much more transparent in how they package their products, often featuring the date right on the can. However, many mass-produced lager and ales don’t often provide such clarity, causing confusion and misinformation.
Recently, 29 bodies in the U.S. have banded together in a proposal that would require all breweries to put the packaged on date on the labels of their beer.
This proposal would be a change in the federal labeling laws and would make the industry much more transparent, allowing the beer market to become safer and the consumers make more informed decisions about the beer they buy.
A standardized date labeling system could drastically reduce the number of beers sold that are past their prime age. It would create an incentive for producers to package their beers on a regular basis, as well as an incentive for retailers to carry only fresh beer.
This proposal would help drinkers avoid stale beer, and it would also help them to become more educated on the taste and flavor of their favorite brews.
The proposal suggests that the new system would be constructed on the following principles:
Labeling must include a “Packaged On Date” and/or a “Best Before Date”.
The date should be clearly visible and not require any intricate calculations to determine the shelf life.
The date should reflect the timeframe in which the beer is likely to remain at the peak of its quality.
Until the proposal is accepted into federal law, consumers are largely left in the dark as to when their favorite beers were packaged. This can leave customers disappointed in their purchases, as well as disillusioned in the beer market as a whole.
However, a Packaged On Date system would reduce the occurrences of poorly labeled and marketed beers, as well as assure customers that every sip is as fresh as possible.
If you are passionate about ensuring that every bottle of beer that you drink was truly fresh, consider joining the craft beer alliance and spreading the word. Those interested