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Food Safety Issues/interpreting date on a food product


QUESTION: I have two food products in front of me.  One has a use by/sell by/etc date of
Dec 22, 2012   11:33
The other has exactly: 52 292 C

It seems obvious the 11:33 and the 10:32 are time stamps. the Dec 22 too is
obvious.  But what in the world does 52 292 C mean!?  thanx


When a food product code is not recognizable to a consumer, it's purpose is for the manufacturer only.  The series of letters and numbers have meaning to them but are not designed to have meaning for the consumer.  

In the above case, the numbers probably indicate the plant where the product was manufactured, possibly the date (292 could mean the 292 day of the year -- some manufacturers use the Julian calendar (1 - 365) to indicate the date when it was produced) and the letter "C" may indicate that it was produced on line C.  I'm just know for sure you'd have to contact the manufacturer.  

If you have specific questions about a company's product, most manufacturers offer a toll-free number to call for questions about food expiration dates.

Here is an interesting article written by a friend of mine which you may find helpful in interpreting codes on foods:

Happy Holidays.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I think the 292 -is- the day of the year (1-365), as you mentioned!
I called the company, they didnt know, gave me another number for their
distributor/manufacturer/etc!!  Never got anywhere with that number either!
If we assume this (bakery danish with creme filling) WAS made ~ end-of-
October 2012,,,per the 292, and it is now 50 days after that "made it"
date,  would you think, as I do, this is waaaay to long after the
"baked it" date, to be selling it?  thanx   bob

Hello again,

You can't assume that the 292 is the day of the year without confirmation from the manufacturer.  It may mean something completely different!

I'd keep trying to get information from the distributor/manufacturer or possibly from the store where you purchased the items.  Perhaps they can shed some light on the numbers on the danish.

Wish I could help more but its beginning to look like the numbers on the danish are not cipherable by anyone outside of the manufacturer. And since I assume you just recently purchased this item as a fresh product, chances are that 292 does not indicate the date of manufacturing since fresh danish are not sold 50 days after they are made.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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