Open dating product
The codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers, can refer to the date or time of manufacture. Some cans also display open dating, which usually are “best if used by” dates for peak product quality.
According to the USDA, “In general, high-acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored on the shelf 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years – if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.” Egg Carton Dating: Pack date indicates freshness While the use of a “sell-by” or expiration date is not federally required on egg cartons, such labeling is required by some state laws and is not allowed by other state laws.
These dates are not "use by" dates, but the time the container was actually filled.
As they are not really intended for general public knowledge these codes are frequently unique to a particular processor and are not commonly published by them.
This number is then followed by a single letter such as "B" and then by a single digit that represents the year.
Some examples of this might be: IMPORTANT NOTE: I have not personally verified all of these code keys.
If an open date is shown on a product, both the month and day of the month (and year for shelf-stable and frozen products) must be displayed on the product packaging.
Immediately adjacent to the date a phrase explaining the meaning of the date such as “sell by” or “use before” must be displayed.
Should you happen to call a processor customer service number you might tell them this in an effort to encourage them.
It is possible to get the keys to these codes by contacting the processor and asking how to decipher the dating code for specific product lines.
Over time, readers have been doing this and the code keys below are the ones that have been sent to me.
Egg cartons with a USDA grade shield on them must display the “pack date,” or date that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton.
When a “sell-by” date appears on a carton bearing the USDA grade shield, the code date may not exceed 45 days from the date the eggs were packed.