Re: Federal packaging
No, Federal is not especially "hotter" than other primers. Federal is just different. Anytime you change anything in a load you should back off and work up. Different primers, different brass thicknesses and internal capacities, different bullets with different ogives giving different seating depths. These all will affect pressure to a greater or lesser degree.
This advice is generally given, but I don't think it always needs to be followed. If you are shooting near maximum loads - yes, because increased pressures could push you over max. Shooting for accuracy - again, yes, because change can throw your accuracy away. But if you are not doing one or the other of these, I don't see the sense in it. I was loading 38 special. Changed from CCI to WW because my 642 would not reliably pop the CCI. My load was four grains of powder. Max was five. If I was loading max, safety says reduce it 10% and work back up. Reducing 5 by 10% would bring it down to 4.5. I'm loading 4.0. I saw no sense in reducing and working back up. I noticed, however, when I had loads with CCI and loads with WW in the same gun that there was a difference. The ones loaded with WW had more recoil.
As to your box question, it just means that your primers are older. I've got some Federal I bought 6 or 7 years ago. They are in a red box. That's not a worry. I've still got some CCI that are so old they are in a box about 1 1/2" square, standing on their sides in slots that hold ten, instead of being in individual holes in a box 3" square. They still work.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy, and taste good with catsup - George of Lod, Year of Our Lord 297
I always take precautions.
Beware the Evil Bullet Fairies.