You’ve probably noticed that some dietary supplements have an expiration date (sometimes called best-if-used-by date, and best-by date), while others include a manufacture date instead. Why is this? We’d love to explain a bit further.

As the supplement industry is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all processes must follow Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) guidelines, which do not require an expiration date on products. When an expiration date is included, there must be data to support that expiration date. However, the FDA does not offer guidance on the types of data acceptable for expiration, so industry standards can vary widely on what constitutes sufficient data. 

For us at MaryRuth’s, having sufficient data means performing laboratory testing for stability of the product over time, assessing organoleptic, chemical, physical, and microbial properties of the product before and after the timed tests. This is a long-term investment to acquire, since testing a product for stability not only requires the investment of time, but can also be quite costly to complete.

While MaryRuth’s is working on getting expiration dates for many of our products, until we obtain that data, we must follow proper procedures by listing manufacturing dates on our products. Any products that are still undergoing this stability testing will list the manufacture date for quality assurance until we can determine valid expiration dates to be listed. 

There are a wide variety of reasons why a company may choose to use manufacture dates over expiration dates on their products, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Most companies, regardless of whether they use manufacture dates or expiration dates, have many other quality assurance measures in place to make sure that, as a consumer, you are receiving the best possible product!