Joel Davis, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, said that with a handful of exceptions - notably nitroglycerin, insulin and some liquid antibiotics - most expired drugs are probably effective., and drug manufacturers have economic and liability incentives to specify shorter shelf lives so that consumers are encouraged to discard and repurchase products. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to issue guidelines based on SLEP research for normal marketing of pharmaceuticals even though the FDA performed the study.
In other words, it might refer to whether a commodity should no longer be on a pantry shelf (unfit for use), or just no longer on a supermarket shelf (unfit for sale, but not yet unfit for use).
It applies to cosmetics, foods and beverages, medical devices, medicines, explosives, pharmaceutical drugs, chemicals, tires, batteries and many other perishable items.
Most can be influenced by several factors: exposure to light, heat, moisture, transmission of gases, mechanical stresses, and contamination by things such as micro-organisms.
Product quality is often mathematically modelled around a parameter (concentration of a chemical compound, a microbiological index, or moisture content).
The SLEP discovered that drugs such as Cipro remained effective nine years after their shelf life, and, as a cost-saving measure, the US military routinely uses a wide range of SLEP tested products past their official shelf life if drugs have been stored properly.
Preservatives and antioxidants may be incorporated into some food and drug products to extend their shelf life.
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In some regions, an advisory best before, mandatory use by or freshness date is required on packaged perishable foods.
The concept of expiration date is related but legally distinct in some jurisdictions.
Some stores can be fined for selling out of date products; most if not all would have to mark such products down as wasted, resulting in a financial loss.