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Recently1 I have found some products that has "for immediate consumption after opening" notice instead of the usual "store in cold place and consume within 48-72 hours after opening" (the usual "keep in a cold place" / "store in fridge" usually follows in both cases).

How should I understand this term?

Am I really supposed to eat entire package right / the same day after opening and am I really not allowed to store it for 2-3 days in fridge after opening?

Or maybe explanation is completely different? Maybe "for immediate consumption" means that I can eat it right away without any extra preparation needs (like warming up or cooking etc.) and maybe this term has nothing to do with storing after opening requirements?

Examples of products on which I have recently found such note includes: Humus and French Pâté.

1I have intentionally made an emphasis on "recently" because I haven't seen such products ever before. However, I don't know, if I was just so lucky to not find them or if this has some correlation to food without any preservatives, that is currently flooding Poland? Can "immediate consumption" be enforced by the fact that food has no preservatives and thus must be immediately consumed once opened and once air is added to it?

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    It may depend on the product and it may be for quality reasons, not food safety. Can you give an example or two of products you see this on? – Catija Nov 20 '16 at 18:16
  • @Catija Sure thing! Added humus and pâté into question. Sorry for such obvious mistake of not providing examples in the first place. – trejder Nov 23 '16 at 7:04
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    I think it probably is that you should finish the package at the same session as you opened it. Hummus, if it doesn't have preservatives, will start spoiling within a couple of hours (at least in middle-east weather). A good quality hummus won't be good quality after 12 hours in the fridge, and will probably be spoiled after 36 hours. – Carmi Nov 23 '16 at 9:40
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It's not generally about food safety or even quality. That phrase refers to the type of license the seller of the food item has. So the phrase has a legal meaning, which may have nothing to do with the food.

In some jurisdictions, grocery stores have different regulations and zoning than restaurants. So, one way to differentiate between grocery stores and restaurants is that food sold in restaurants is for immediate consumption. Some packaged food may only be sold to restaurants, or the labeling is different for packages destined for restaurants. Some information may be required on labels destined for grocery stores, which isn't required on labels for restaurant packages. Restaurant packages may be labeled "for immediate consumption".

Such rules are often frequently ignored, and regulations can change faster than labels.

In the US, a more common way to see it on packages is "for foodservice use only".

  • While I know I've seen that term in the U.S. meaning what you discuss, it looks like OP is from Poland. Are you sure the legal implication is the same in that context? – Athanasius Dec 2 '16 at 3:46
  • @Athanasius only because I Googled and spent three hours reading. – Jolenealaska Dec 2 '16 at 5:53
  • Okay -- I wasn't necessarily doubting you, only asking for clarification. If you found some useful sources that clarify this term in your reading, it might be helpful to link them. – Athanasius Dec 5 '16 at 0:00
  • @Athanasius I would, but it was preponderance of the evidence thing, not one quote that made it clear. – Jolenealaska Dec 5 '16 at 1:48

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