This will be a growing page of deciphering food product coding. It is divided into 3 parts; food coding, emailing manufacturer and company website addys. Download julian calendar (2004) as a pdf file, fairly easy to estimate if in grocery store figuring out coding of item. Marrs candy uses week of year manufactured in their coding. Some vendors use alphabet letters A thru L to signify the month. Mealtime.org is the only other page on the net that has coding examples (Canned Food Alliance consortium - nice of them to interpret their own coding!!). Please send me an email if you have a question of decoding a particular item. I will email the vendor for information, if they are uncooperative - I will list them as such. If this page is circulated via the email brigade, it may influence more vendors to code expiration dates in easy to understand English. As a consumer, I have the right to purchase the freshest product at the grocery store. Only bill in congress is HR 2699, deals with state rights (scroll down to G 1). It is worthless at a federal level to enforce freshness dating.

Baking
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Pillsbury Flour H3L08 Month (A - L) | Y | XXX Manufactured 1 Year Aug 04
Pillsbury Cake Mix K3T19 Month (A - L) | Y | XXX Manufactured 1 Year Nov 04
Pet Evaporated Milk K3B2112E Month (A - L) | Y | DD | XXX Manufactured 1 Year Nov 21 04

Beans
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Bush's E1633 Month | Day | Y | x Manufactured 3 Years May 16 06

Beverage
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Gatorade CT56429138 xx| Julian | Y | xxxxx Pull Date Feb 25 04
Gatorade is in the process of changing to "Best By" non-code dating.

Candy
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Hershey Chocolate 4B Y | Month (A - L) Pull Date Feb 01 04
Marrs | M & M 350xx Y | Week Manufactured 1 Year Dec 07 04
Farley & Sanders 4033xx Y | Julian Pull Date Feb 02 04
Just Born 40303xx Y | MM | DD | Plant Pull Date Mar 03 04
Marrs is in the process of changing to "Best By" month - day - year dating.

Cookies
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Keebler | Sunshine 4214 Year | Julian Pull Date Aug 01 04
Nabisco 4214xxxxx Year | Julian | Plant Pull Date Aug 01 04
Famous Amos 02164 MM DD Y Pull Date Feb 16 04

Gum
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Wrigley 160204 DD MM YY Pull Date Feb 16 04

Popcorn
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Act II xx3322xxxx Plant | Year | Julian 1 Year Nov 17 04

Sauces & Oils
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Wessons Oils M3279xxxx Plant | Year Manufactured | Julian 1 Year Oct 06 04
Old El Paso Picante K3B2112E Month (A-L) | Year | xx | Day Manufactured 2 Years (questionable) Nov 11 05

Snacks
Product Code Example Format Shelf Life Expiration Date
Pringles 03264xxxxx Year Manufactured | Julian 18 months Mar 20 05
Sun Maid Raisins xx03Dec02 DD Month YY Manufactured 18 Months May 03 04
David & Sons xxxxxx4B Plant | Year | Month (A-L) Pull Date Feb 01 04
Moon Pies 032504xx MMDDYY Pull Date Mar 25 04
Hot Pockets 03264xxxxx Year Manufactured | Julian Unsure Watch for freezer burn
Kellogg Snack Bars PM06124A62 xx | MMDDY | xxx Pull Date Jun 12 04
Kellogg's and Hot Pockets are in the process of changing to "Best By" month - day - year dating.





Below is a sample page found when clicking a food manufacturer "contact us" link. I only provide an email addy (hotmail), first name (use any so they know a person is on other end of email), state and nearby zip code. If you can not send without providing more required information - put an X in those boxes.
Sample text in comments
Could you give me the expiration date of this 16 oz bottle of Old El Paso picante sauce. What is the shelf life of the product from manufacturing date to expiration?

K3B2112E 09:15

Thank you
Ron

May We Help?
Your questions and comments are important to us. We frequently need to follow-up by phone or postal mail. Please provide this information in addition to your email address to help us reply to you.

Please complete this form and press Send.
Email Address: *Required*
First Name:
Last Name:
Address:
City:
State/Province:
Zip/Postal Code:
Country:
Day Phone Number: ( ) -
Evening Phone Number: ( ) -
If you're contacting us about a product, please enter the complete name of the product, including the brand and flavor.
Product Name:
Please provide the UPC code from the product package, if available.
UPC Code:
UPC
Subject of Email:
Comments:
   

A reply I received back
Dear Consumer:

Thank you for taking the time to contact our company regarding productcodes.

Our manufacturing codes are composed of a series of letters and numbers that identify the date of production.
    M= The month of production (A= January, B=February, C=March, etc.)
    Y= A number standing for year of production (1=2001, 2=2002, etc.)
    P or PP= A letter or two letters standing for the plant
    DD= Two numbers identifying the date of production (01-31)

Example: a production code starting with B2NV27 would indicate that the product was made on February 27, 2002.

For best quality:

* Use Old El Paso salsa, picante sauce, taco sauce, refried beans, whole beans, black bean dip, seasoning mixes, canned or jarred jalapeno peppers, and canned Spanish rice within 24 months of production.
* Use Old El Paso canned green chiles, canned enchilada sauce, and dry rice mixes within 18 months of production.
* Use Old El Paso cheese & salsa dip within 12 months of production.
* Use Old El Paso soft tortillas, and dinner kits containing only soft tortillas within 9 months of production.
* Use Old El Paso hard taco shell products, hard & soft taco shell products, and dinner kits containing hard taco shells within 6 months of production.

Sincerely,

Thomas H. Batty
General Mills
Consumer Services



Below are companies, their products and websites to email. Lets say you have an item in question and don't know who makes it. Look for the upc (represents 12 digits: a company prefix followed by an item reference number and a "check digit") on the barcode (example or history). Go to upcdatabase (either advanced or whole upc) or Defense Logistics Agency. It should give the maker of product. Below are parent companies of makers of products. Sometimes, its hard to figure out which company is the parent; who owns what. Email them for interpretation of code dating. Feel free to include link to this page addy in email. Consumer pressure on companies to voluntarily use "best buy" dating will speed up the process. This page lists some toll-free hotline numbers of companies, composed in 1998.

Bush's
Web site:   www.bushbeans.com
Brand:   Bush's: Baked Beans, Black Beans, Blackeye Peas, Cannellini Beans, Chili Beans, Chili Magic, Garbanzo Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans, Refried Beans

Campbell Soup Company
Web site:   www.campbellsoup.com
Brand:   Campbell Soup, Pace, V8 Beverages, Swanson, Prego, Franco-American, Pepperidge Farm, Godiva.

ConAgra Foods
Web site:   www.conagrafoods.com
Brand:   ACT II, Andy Capp's Snacks, Crunch 'n Munch, David & Sons' Firecracker, Gilardi Foods, Hunt's ,JHS, Jiffy Pop, Kid Cuisine, Lunch Makers, Orville Redenbacher, Pemmican, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, The Max,Angela Mia Prima Choice, Award, Blue Bonnet, Butterball, Chef Boyardee, Cook's Ham, County Line, Homestyle Bakes, Inland Valley, Knott's Berry Farm, Lamb Weston, Libby's, Manwich, Margherita Italian Specialties, Oldham's Farm, Parkay, Pauly, Peter Pan, Ready Crisp, Swift Premium Brown 'N Serve Sausages, Swiss Miss, Van Camp's, Wesson, Armour, Banquet, Big Mama Sausage, Bumble Bee, Chun King, Decker, Dennison's, EA Miller Blue Ribbon Angus and Beef, Eckrich, Gulden's, Hebrew National, La Choy, Longmont Turkey, Luck's, MaMa Rosa's, Marie Callender's, Nikos, Patio, Pierce Chicken, Ranch Style, Ro Tel, Singleton, Texas Signature Foods, Treasure Cave, Webber Farms, Wolf Brand Chili, Wolfgang Puck, Country Pride, Culturelle, Egg Beaters, Fleischmann's, Healthy Choice, Hunt's, Lightlife, Meridian, Move Over Butter, PAM, Rosarita

Del Monte Foods
Web site:   www.freshdelmonte.com
Brand:   Contadina, S & W, Del Monte, Sunfresh, Starkist, College Inn

The Dial Corporation
Web site:   www.dialcorp.com
Brand:   Armour Star canned meats

General Mills
Web site:   www.generalmills.com
Brand:   Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Cheerios, Bisquick, Big G Cereals, Green Giant, Chex

Hormel Foods Corporation
Web site:   www.hormel.com
Brand:   DINTY MOORE Microwave Meals, DINTY MOORE BAKES Products | HERB-OX Bouillon, HORMEL Bacon Toppings, HORMEL Chili | HORMEL Chunk Meats, HORMEL Microwave Meals and Soups | KID'S KITCHEN Microwave Meals, MARY KITCHEN Hash, | SPAM Family of Products, STAGG Chili | ALWAYS TENDER Flavored Pork, Beef, Chicken, and Turkey | HORMEL Fully Cooked Entrees

Kellogg
Web site:   www.kelloggs.com
Trade Names:   Eggo, Worthington Foods, Morningstar Foods, Loma Linda, Natural Touch, Keebler, Sunshine, Famous Amos, Murray Biscuits, Little Brownie Bakers
Brand:   Kellogg's, Keebler, Pop-Tarts, Eggo, Cheez-It, Nutri-Grain, Rice Krispies, Special K, Murray, Austin, Morningstar Farms, Famous Amos, CarrĂ­s, Plantation and Kashi.

MultiFoods (acquired by Smuckers in March 2004)
Web site:   www.multifoods.com
Brand:   Pillsbury, Hungry Jack, Pet Evaporated Milk, Martha White

Ocean Spray Cranberries
Web site:   www.oceanspray.com
Brand:   Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce | Ocean Spray Cran.fruit resealable sauces | Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice and cranberry juice blends | Ocean Spray Grapefruit Juices and grapefruit juice blends | Ocean Spray Craisins sweetened dried cranberries | Ocean Spray Spritzers | Ocean Spray No Thaw juices and juice blends | Ocean Spray Original Fruit Mixers | Ocean Spray Cravin'

Pepsico
Web site:   www.pepsico.com
Trade Names:   Pepsi, Quaker, Tropicana, Frito Lay, Gatorade
Brand:   Quaker cereals, Aunt Jemima, Frito Lay chips and dips, Natural snacks, Gatorade drinks

Procter & Gamble Company
Web site:   www.pg.com
Brand:   Pringles, Folgers, Olay, Progresso

Seneca
Web site:   www.senecafoods.com
Brand:   Apple Chips, Libby's Vegetables, Aunt Nellie's, Lohmann glass vegetables, Blue Boy Vegetables

Unilever Bestfoods
Web site:   www.bestfoods.com
Brand:   Ragu, Lifton, Bertolli, Birdseye, Slimfast, Knorr, Country Crock, Hellmanns, Best Foods, Skippy, Lawrys

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
Web site:   www.wrigley.com
Brand:   Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Doublemint, Spearmint, Winterfresh, Orbit, Orbit White, Eclipse, Extra, Freedent, Surpass, Airwaves, Alpine, Eclipse Flash


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