How to Read Expiration Date Codes on Food

Nobody likes to buy food that is past its expiration date. Although looking for symptoms of rotting is one approach to monitor food quality, knowing how to read food expiration date codes ensures that you always know where your food is in its life cycle. You only have to read the date to know when the food expires using open dated expiration dates. With closed coded expiration dates, however, you must be familiar with the techniques used by food makers.

The Expiration Code for Open Dating

Items with a short shelf life, such as eggs, milk, and fresh meat, often include the open date dated expiration code. However, it can also be found on things with a longer shelf life, such as “nonperishable” items.

A code for open dated expiration reads precisely as it is written. A calendar date is written and read as an open dated expiration code. For example, if the best by date on a gallon of milk is 12/30/19, you should read it as December 30, 2019.

The Expiration Code with a Closed Code

A closed coded expiration code is more difficult to understand because it comprises of letters and numbers that specify when the item was manufactured. The manufacturer uses closed coded expiration codes to help with inventory tracking, and the techniques vary by company.

Letters are used to represent months in some closed coded expiration dates. A represents January, B represents February, C represents March, and so on. Numbers are usually used after the letter to signify the date and year. The date is April 5, 2019 if the code is D0519. Some closed coded systems employ the full calendar to represent the day; this means they use a number for each day of the year up to 365, so C6019 would be March 1, 2019.

Some businesses identify the first nine months of the year with numbers, then the last three months with letters. The latest three months are identified using the letter that the month begins with if the company adopts this style (O for October, N for November, and D for December). The date O3119 implies that it will expire on October 31, 2019.

The corporation may also choose to utilise all numerals for the date. These can be written with the month, date, and year (011019 would be January 10, 2019), or with the year in front of the month and date (190110 would mean January 10, 2019).

Understanding the Differences in Expiration Date Code Language

Many open dating expiration codes include text preceding the date. The following are some of the most regularly used phrases:

Best if used by or before: This date indicates that the food is at its best quality and flavour. It doesn’t necessarily follow that the food is hazardous to consume after this date.

The date by which the shop should make the product available for purchase. After this date, the food is still safe to eat.

Use-by: Indicates when the product will be at its best.

Freeze-by: The date by which you should freeze food to maintain its quality.

Infant formula is an exception to these rules. It’s got a use-by date on it. However, after this date, you should not utilise the formula. After this time, the nutrients in the formula begin to degrade, and your baby may not receive all of the nutrition he or she requires.

Food Recommendations After the Expiration Date

Most foods are safe to eat after they have passed their expiration date, though the flavour and quality may be diminished. To determine if food has expired, use your senses. If the food smells strange, tastes unpleasant, or has an unusual texture, it has most certainly rotted and should not be eaten.

Tips for Making Your Food Last Longer

There are a few things you can do to help your food last longer. When possible, keep perishable goods in the refrigerator. Make sure the temperature is no higher than 40 degrees. Food can be frozen to extend its shelf life even further.

Perishable goods should not be stored in direct sunlight or in regions where the temperature varies. Perishable goods kept on the shelf in your refrigerator, for example, stay longer than those kept in the refrigerator door.


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