How To Read Expiration Dates? – 2 Easy Ways

You’ve devoted so much effort building your kitchen with packaged foods and non-perishables, and that the final step you have to accomplish is throw stuff away as it’s over its expiry date.

Is it true that food expiration date codes indicate that food is good one day and rotten the next?

Would you throw away a whole can of marinara sauce since the expiration date has passed?

Is it OK to consume those two-week-old tinned strawberries? Isn’t it true that if anything is expired, it must be nasty or spoiled?

So, don’t get your hopes up. In normal periods, you would throw out those containers and not worry about the $1 you lost, but in a surviving crisis, these cans are vital, so knowing how to check its expiry time is crucial.

In this article we will focus on how to read expiration dates and which canned food is good for consumption.

Why Learn To Read Expiration Dates On Cans?

Why Learn To Read Expiration Dates On Cans?

Although there is no universal labeling method for tinned goods, most firms utilize codes that are comparable to monitor various goods. 

Knowing how to recognize the far more typical production date ensures that all food stuffs are fresh & safe for consumption. 

Many packaged foods have a “use by” time imprinted on it and then or label that is not coded. If you don’t have one, look for a coding number printed on the left or right side of a container.

When somebody is still not confident about the barcode on a can or the date by which they should utilize the goods, look for a toll-free number or a website on your canned food products.

If you’re unsure, ask the source. Some firms list the year or date first instead of the month, so if you’re unsure, contact the origin. 

For customers with queries regarding the expiration dates of their products, most manufacturers provide a phone number or a website. 

Even if you can’t read the code on the can or locate a “use by” date on the goods, most canned foods are safe to eat for two years after purchase. 

To keep your canned food fresh, keep it at a reasonable temperature. Storage conditions should not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Canned Food Alliance.

2 Ways To Read Expiration Dates On Canned Foods

Read Expiration Dates On Canned Foods

The lifespan and “use-by” dates of canned foods are among the most commonly questioned questions. 

The labels imprinted on canned foods are generally company’s codes that indicate when the food was packed. 

The codes differ from one producer to the next, but they generally contain information about the time and location of canning. 

For queries concerning canned food expiry dates, most companies provide a toll-free hotline. See below for an example of how to read product codes.

The First Situation: Expiration Date Codes

Depending on the product you’re reading, finding the code might be difficult. 

Except for baby food and infant formula, the United States lacks a standardized coding system. 

As a result, all other businesses do so on a voluntary basis.

On food goods, there are two sorts of expiration date codes:

Open Date

That date is calculated using either traditional time or calendar times. The manufacturing firm selects these dates, and it is up to the customer to determine whether or not adhering to them.

Sell By Or Use By Date

After the start time, you’ll see a sticker that says,“”sell-by,” “use-by” or maybe “pull-by.” 

Such times are intended to inform customers of the expected date when the item will begin to degrade, 

As well as to inform supermarket shops of how lengthy the items can be kept on the racks.

While looking for these dates, look at the base, edges, top, or lid of the container. Most of these are printed on and, depending on where firm positions these, might be difficult to read.

Closed coding is another option that you may discover on the goods. 

It’s a different way of displaying expiration dates on items, usually in the form of a string of numbers and letters on the top or bottom of the package. 

Customers do not utilize sealed labeling; and is used by companies to monitor inventories.

It is indeed worth noting that several items have both a closed and open-date code. 

Therefore, if the product does not really say “use-by” or “best-by,” it’s a closed code that has nothing to do with quality of food.

The Second Situation: Closed Coded Labels

Such tiny markings might reveal a great deal about the goods you’re buying, but deciphering these could be difficult. 

Because there is no other is no universal framework, producers create their own sequence of figures and characters.

Here are a few tips to assist you interpret food labels with closed codes:

  1. Characters usually denote the month. The letter “A” represents January, and the letter “L” stands for December. If you believe companies use an abbreviation for each month, you’re mistaken; they usually don’t. A series of digits will appear after the letter to show the day and year, however the year may appear before the letter in rare circumstances.
  • A number such as “D1617,” which refers for 16th of April 2017, is an illustration.
  1. Other firms use the numbers 1-9 to represent January through September, then the initial character of its name for October, February, or January.
  2. A closed code may also be fully made up of digits in the usual sequence for times, like YYMMDD or MMDDYY. The month-day-year code is the most common six-digit number.
  • Which are the most frequent codes that may be seen on edible items.
  • 020609, for instance, is the date of February 06, 2009.
  • The label may say “090206” for February 06, 2009 if they utilize the year-month-date format.
  1. This is most often used on eggs, although it is also utilized by some canned food producers.
  • The numbers “001” and “365” stand for January 1st and December 31st, respectively.
  • Whenever you discover a three-digit number for 213 on your phone, it corresponds to August 1st, but it’s difficult to tell without even a bunch of calculating.

Expiration Date – ExcelMark Self-Inking Rubber Date Stamp

Compare With Current Date

Most of us will just skip this last step for many reasons. Sometimes, you will accidentally forget it, even though it happens rarely.

That’s when you are attentively interested in this article to decipher the difficult codes on the cans. 

I will tell you a story, I was so happy when I understood what was written on it (the code). I put it in my pocket and take it home. It’s like admiring yourself for deciphering, we forget to do something next.

After you read the expiration date/code. You need to compare that date with the current date. So, time to do some simple calculations.

I will give you some examples as below:

First case

“Best by” on cans: 10/08/2021 or 100821, or Aug/2021

To date is: August 13, 2021

It means that the food has expired

Other case

“Best by” on cans: 10/08/2021 or 100821, or Aug/2021

To date is: June 13, 2021

Canned food is still safe for you to buy or eat.

Just remember that, If the time of “best by” has not come, it means that canned food is still safe for you to use. In case that the time of “best by” has passed, ignore it. Choose other cans.

Can You Eat Canned Food After The ‘Best By’ Date?

Can You Eat Canned Food After The ‘Best By’ Date?

Yes, as long as the food isn’t over its expiration date and has been properly kept. Canned food “use-by” dates are conservative, with greater discretion for the customer than non-perishable goods.

Milk has a seven-day shelf life after stamped sell-by date, whereas fresh meats have a shorter shelf life of three to four days depending upon the brands and quality.

Realize that the date on any packaged foods isn’t necessarily expiration dates. They are the periods on which the food was prepared and canned by the firm. 

Customers are advised to utilize tinned products within 2 years following sale, however this may be just after the expiration date on the can. Firms prefer to be cautious in order to save money.

We understand that individuals having unpacked packaged meals for years, if not decades, beyond the expiration date and discovered that the food is still edible!

Although it’s a great habit to consume the foodstuff in your cupboard before the expiry time, don’t throw it away if the deadline has passed.

Exposure To High Temperature 

Foodstuffs, even those that have been adequately stored, are degraded when subjected to extreme heat. 

One must never preserve or keep canned products in locations that are extremely hot. Large temperature swings are another concern. 

Slight degree changes are unimportant; they occur in virtually all types of storage, unless you can afford temperature-controlled storage pantries, which are out of reach for the majority of the population.

Whether Or Not The Can Is Damaged

Every time keep an eye on your canned products for any signs of deterioration. 

Damaged, twisted, or smashed cans jeopardize the food’s quality by damaging the sealing which keeps microorganisms out.

The certain damage increases the chances of air getting inside the can, which raises the danger of mold growing. Moldy food is the last thing you want to consume. 

That is going to make you sick!

Although product producers have some control over the state in which containers depart their store, that is all they have. 

They’re aware of this, so they choose a conservative best-by date to reduce the chances of consumers finding rotten or moldy food.

Tips For Canned Foods

  • Because the foods on the front of the shelf have a shorter shelf life, shopkeepers place these outdoors to sell them faster.
  • Many bottles merely have the month & year printed on them. Take the first date of each period indicated as the date.
  • Don’t rely just on the expiration date; follow your instincts. When your nose senses an unusual odor, trust it. Furthermore, you must always keep an eye out for potential alterations in the form of the canned foods.
  • Keep canned foods at a cool temp to keep them refreshed.
  • Why a majority of absolutely fine foodstuff is thrown away since consumers don’t understand how to read food expiry date codes or that the dates are selected carefully. 
  • I suggest labeling all tinned foods with the time bought and keeping in note the suggested 2 life year span. One may also record the correct upon the box’s label.
  • Buying damaged cans isn’t a huge problem if you expect to utilize the canned items within the following several weeks. Damaged cans can be found at a discount, but if you’re storing food, dented cans are a no-no.


Is it possible to check the expiration date using a barcode?

Mobile Apps for barcode helps in tracking expiry date and time from anywhere using your mobile device. Your effort and time are extremely valuable. Easily check the codes and note the expiry dates with these apps. Apps like these will keep an eye on it for you.

Are coupons still good once they’ve passed their expiration date?

Yes, you may utilize a coupon on its expiration date. On their expiration date, in-store coupons are valid until the end of the business day, buy online coupons generally expire at the end of the calendar day. In other words, a coupon becomes invalid the day following its expiration date.

How do you decipher the expiration date on a Heinz can?

The first three digits on the Heinz catsup container indicate the day of the year from January 1 (001) to December 31 (365), while the last figure represents the year the catsup was bottled. The number 9 would be assigned to the year 1979, and “0029” would be the second day of the year.

What do the canned food numbers mean?

Check only at code’s initial letter or digit. The periods of January through September are frequently represented by the numbers 1 through 9. On many cans, the letter “O” generally stands for October, “N” for November, and “D” for December.


In an ideal scenario, you’d keep the meal around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The shelf life of canned foods is reduced by 50% for every 15 degrees that the temperature rises. In addition, the atmosphere must be dry and dark.

  • Make sure you smell anything that has gone past its expiration date before you actually consume it. Toss it out if you’re not sure about its fragrance.
  • The smell isn’t the only indicator that the meal isn’t up to par. When consuming canned food over its expiration date, there are a few more things to look out for.
  • Every coloring indicates that perhaps the foodstuff is potentially tainted. Any foodstuff with an unusual hue should be discarded.
  • When you unscrew a jar or can, it usually sprays liquid out, which is an indication that the food is rotten.
  • If mold is developing on the foodstuff, this indicates that the can had air in it. You have no way of knowing whether bacteria were growing or not.

Most firms use food expiry date codes on a voluntary basis, and they aren’t set in stone.

If the product tastes and looks fine after the expiration date, it is probably safe to eat. To increase the shelf life of your food stockpile, make sure you store it appropriately.