Date Coding — Reducing the Confusion

  • Date Coding — Reducing the Confusion

    Date marking, code dating, or coding are common ways of adding a ‘Quality Date’. I prefer to call it ‘date coding’ since it expresses the best date of quality and often used to trace the product to the lot. This code is used to determine the best quality properties of the product. It is not about the safety of the product.

    Date coding is not subject to federal regulations and varies considerably among states and jurisdictions. There are a few exceptions, such as infant formula, date coding is federally regulated to ensure nutrient content and consumption.

    The qualifiers before the date: ‘Best-by,’ ‘Use-by,’ ‘Sell-by’ are all stating the date the manufacturer ensures the quality of the product. The quality will likely start deteriorating around that date. I personally never throw out a product based on the date unless it states ‘Expires-by’. I use my senses and knowledge of the storage of the product to determine if can be consumed. However, if it has been opened, or not correctly stored, smells or looks off: throw it out.

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