The Case of the Missing Expiration Date

Expiration dates can be hard to locate on a product and even more challenging to decipher.  Currently, the United States does not have a regulated or standard system for coding expiration dates on food, except for those on baby food and infant formula.  All other dates and codes are added voluntarily by manufacturers. 


DId you ever pick up a food item, boxed or jarred, and look for an expiration date - and you only saw a bunch of numbers in what seems to be a random pattern, not related to a date?  What you may be looking at is a numbering system called the Julian Calendar, and as noted above, each manufacturer decides if they will use that numbering system or use the one shown below:










Getting back to the Julian Calendar, if you see the number 7221, that means the item was manufactured in 2017, on August 9.  If the product has a shelf life of two years, you'll know it's good until August 9, 2019.  If you see more than four numbers, you'll have to contact the product manufacturer, as they may have added more numbers to indicate where the item was made.

Click the PDF symbol to print a copy of a Julian Calendar, which is perpetual and includes leap years too.  We bring our copy to the grocery store.  Happy shopping!

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