It’s on your gallon of milk. It’s on your carton of eggs. Stamped clearly on the packaging is a small, simple code listing an upcoming date. This is the date code, and it’s a mandatory component you’ll find on most perishable goods in the U. S. But why is this marking required in food and beverage packaging? We explain how the government regulates date coding here.

What Is Date Coding?

Date coding is the process of marking product packaging with a date and/or time stamp post-production. Some of the most common types of date and time codes include “best by” expiration codes and packaging date codes.

“Best by” expiration codes note the day, month, and year that businesses should pull the products from shelves. While commonly used by consumers as a freshness counter, this code only states the last day a product will be at its best quality. Consumers can still safely ingest food and beverages after this date so long as the product doesn’t exhibit signs of spoilage.

Packaging date codes are only officially required for infant formulas. They denote the day, month, and year that a product was packaged.

Why Is It Necessary?

You might be shocked to learn that the federal government only mandates date coding for two types of products: infant formula and poultry goods. But state governments tend to be stricter about date code enforcement. Currently, 41 states require it for perishable goods like milk, eggs, meat, and shellfish.

But why is date coding required in food and beverage packaging in the first place? Date coding is required in these states because it helps businesses avoid unnecessary environmental and food waste and protects consumers from food poisoning. It’s an environmental and human safety matter that the government takes very seriously.

What Equipment Do You Need To Date Code Packaging?

If you operate a food or beverage business in a state that enforces date coding, you need reliable, high-quality printers to help you mark your product packaging quickly and correctly. At Tourmaline Enterprises, we carry a variety of top-of-the-line InkJet coding systems. Our top priority is finding businesses affordable, productive date coding solutions so they can meet federal and state guidelines for their products. Contact us today with any questions or for help finding the right system for your production team.