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I have a box (actually, 6 boxes) of Kroger brand lime gelatin dessert with sell-by date stamped:

SELL BY JUN 05 09B KA

Is this June 5, 2009, June 9, 2005 or June 2005 (with "09B" of no consequence)?

  • How much difference does it make? If you'd eat it 8.5 years out of date, why not 12.5? As it's just a sell by date, I would. Most brands use just a month and year on long-dated products, but not all because a day can act as a batch number. – Chris H Feb 20 '18 at 20:21
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    @Chris H - because I have over 2 dozen boxes of out-of-date gelatin mixes and I want to document edibility/textures/taste/etc by date/type. As it turns out so far, the only thing affected in the sugar-based products is the gelatin as it tends to become less "dissolvable" as time passes and therefore the gelatin becomes less gelatin-like. Surprisingly, my elderly father prefers this soupy version to the normal gelatin because he can forego the spoon and just slurp it down like a shake. – squidlydeux Feb 20 '18 at 20:58
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    That sounds like my sort of experiment. In comparison I'm disappointed to learn that the pack I made up the other day is only a year out of date (and clearly dated with month and year -- Hartley's brand). Are you weighing the packs? I wonder if over that long some moisture is gained/lost even through the plastic – Chris H Feb 20 '18 at 21:45
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    @Chris H Hmm - Didn't think of that. However the pack with the above date remained rather powder-y and not hard as a block as some with a lot of sugar are want to do. – squidlydeux Feb 21 '18 at 8:23
  • Unfortunately, the Kroger folks wouldn't commit to a definitive answer and politely referred me back to my local store personnel. – squidlydeux Mar 12 '18 at 17:11
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This is standard dating and would be June 5, 2009. In the US it's pretty standard for open dating to be formatted as month-day-year.

Also from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:

Does Federal Law Require Dating?

Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by Federal regulations.

For meat, poultry, and egg products under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), dates may be voluntarily applied provided they are labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and in compliance with FSIS regulations1. To comply, a calendar date must express both the month and day of the month. In the case of shelf-stable and frozen products, the year must also be displayed. Additionally, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as "Best if Used By."

(Emphasis mine.)

  • Do you have any kind of reference or other support for that? – Spagirl Feb 20 '18 at 23:14
  • @Spagirl No references, just 30+ years in the CPG industry. – Cindy Feb 21 '18 at 4:35
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    Could you include that fact in your answer? Or since you would know if an online source was accurate, could you find something authoritative? Comments are ephemeral and, as it stands, there is nothing to give your answer weight. I could post ‘This is standard labelling and the 09 indicates which facility made the product’ which is completely made-up but the OP would have no way to distinguish which answer was reliable. I know ‘back it up’ doesn’t seem to be explicit in our FAQ, but it is a general SE principle. stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/29/good-subjective-bad-subjective – Spagirl Feb 21 '18 at 8:05
  • @Spagirl I have made a request to Kroger but as yet have not received an answer from them. – squidlydeux Feb 21 '18 at 8:27
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    @Cindy Cheers, I can see this being an answer that will be really useful to lots of users in the future. Sometimes the way dates are expressed in such codes is ambiguous if you don't have the knowledge that the day must be included as well. I've often been confused because I assume that long-dated things will only need the month which leaves me, like the OP, guessing at whether numbers denote days or years. – Spagirl Feb 21 '18 at 11:12

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