Food Shelf Life Recommendations

Version 1.1

8/14/98

Grocery product shelf life is based upon the Manufacturer’s Date Packaged (DP) code. Manufacturers encode the Date Packaged somewhere on the product in a form unique to their internal procedures. My objective is to provide Date Packaged (DP) code keys for well-known products to assist your food purchasing and rotation efforts. Remember that these times are the manufacturer’s recommendations for MAXIMUM freshness and nutrient value. Several vendors indicated their products are edible long beyond the published recommendation dates.

The information presented here was retrieved from either the vendor’s website or via contact with the vendor consumer hotline. In order to maintain freshness within the suggested expiration dates, food should be stored in a dry, cool location. Discard any food product exhibiting changed color, odor, or taste. Storage temperature has a great influence on shelf life. Per Del Monte – a 15-degree change reduces expected shelf life by 50% (ideal temp is 65; if stored at 80, then shelf life is reduced by 50%).

Recommended product Shelf life is defined as MOS (months) Unopened and Opened. Both of these timeframes are calculated using the Date Packaged (DP) as the base. Unopened refers to total months the product can be stored at home. Opened refers to the total months (or days or weeks) the product can be stored once it has been opened. If the chart has a time recommendation for Opened, consider it as a SUBSET of the Unopened timeframe. For example, if a product has an Unopened shelf life of 12 months and an Opened recommendation of 3 months, the following statements are true:

  • For maximum freshness, the product should remain on your shelf for a maximum of date packaged + 12 months
  • Once the product is opened, it should remain on your shelf for a maximum of 3 months OR less. The combined unopen and open timeframes should not exceed date packaged + 12 months.

This chart is a work in progress. Feedback for additions, corrections or improvements should be forwarded to czimmer@gte.net for inclusion in a subsequent update. The chart is organized closely to the sequence of the generic Cupboard Storage Chart at extension sites (e.g. http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/dp_fnut/HRAP/STORAGE/cupstor.htm ). I’ve included the extension product recommendations in the table. They are listed without a specific manufacturer entry and with "generic" in the comment column. Food categories include:

  • Staples
  • Mixes and Packaged Foods
  • Canned and Dried Foods
  • Spices, Herbs, Condiments, and Extracts
  • Others

 

Chart column definitions:

 

DP= Date Packaged; (X= letter or number not significant to product shelf life, Y=Year Packaged, MM or M= Month Packaged (if only one M then 1-9=Jan-Sep, A=Oct, B=Nov, C=Dec unless otherwise noted), DD=Day Packaged, JJJ=Julian Day Packaged (Jan 1 = 001, Dec 31 = 365 or 366 depending on presence of leap year).

 

DP LOC= Location of Date Packaged

 

UNOPEN= Number of months shelf life unopened from Date Packaged

 

OPEN=Number of months shelf life once opened.

 

 

FOOD PRODUCT RECOMMENDED SHELF LIFE

 

PRODUCT 

MFG

 

Date Pkg.

 

DP LOC

 

Recommended Shelf life (Mos)

 

COMMENTS

 

Unopen

 

Open

 

STAPLES

 

Baking Powder

    

18 or exp. date

  

Generic: Keep dry and covered. Test effectiveness w/ 1 tsp. BP and cup tap warm tap water. If bubbles, then still active

 

Calumet

Baking Powder

  

Exp. Date

  

Exp. date

 

same

 

1-800-431-1001

 

Baking Soda

    

24

  

Generic: Key dry and covered

 

Bisquick

  

Exp. Date

  

Exp. date

 

Same

 
 

Bouillon

    

24

  

Keep dry and covered

 

Bouillon

Herb Ox

 

Hormel

 

XMMDDY

 

Bottom

 

24

 

same

 

1-800-523-4635

www.hormel.com;

 

Bouillon

Tone

 

Tone

 

YMDDx

M = A-M for Jan –> Dec

(I is skipped!)

  

24

 

same

 

1-800-247-5251

 

Cereals

Ready to Eat

To Be Cooked

    

6-12

6

 

2-3

 

Generic: Refold liner tightly after opening

 

Chocolate

Pre-melted

Semi Sweet

-- Unsweetened

    

12

18

18

  

Generic: Keep cool

 

Chocolate Syrup

    

24

 

6

 

Generic: Refrig. After opening

 

Cocoa Mixes

    

8

  

Generic: Cover Tightly

 

Cocoa Mix

Nestles Quick

 

Nestles

 

YDDD

 

Embossed top row of codes on bottom

 

24

 

3-6

 

1-800-637-8536

 

Coffee

Cans

Instant

    

24

12-24

 

2 wks

2

 

Generic: Refrigerate after opening. Keep tightly closed, use dry measuring spoon.

 

Coffee

Yuban (can)

  

YJJJ

 

Bottom of can; top row

 

12

 

1

 

May refrig. after opened.

1-800-982-2649

 

Coffee Lighteners (dry)

    

9

 

6

 

Generic: Keep lid tightly closed

 

Cornmeal

    

12

  

Generic: Keep tightly closed

 

Cornstarch

    

18

  

Generic: Keep tightly closed

 

Cornstarch

Argo

 

Best Foods

 

MDDxY

 

Top of pkg

 

Indefinite

 

Same

 

Lasts indefinitely. Discard if lumps, bugs, or moisture. 1-800-338-8831

 

Drink Mix

Country Time

Lemonade

  

YJJJxx

 

Bottom

 

24

 

Same

 

Use within 2 years of DP

1-800-432-1002

 

Drink Mix

Crystal Light

  

YJJJxx

 

Blue Band, white printing

 

24

 

Same

 

Use within 2 years of DP

1-800-432-1002

 

Drink Mix

Tang

  

YJJJx

 

Bottom of product, 2nd line

 

24