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How to Read Trader Joe’s Expiration Dates – Complete Guide

How to Read Trader Joe's Expiration Dates

If you live in America, chances are you’ve heard of Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is a grocery store chain popular among the public because of its diverse range of products as well as its accessibility all over the country. 

When figuring out if the Trader Joe’s product you’ve bought is still good for use or not, look at expiration dates present on the packaging. The expiration dates can be presented in a few different formats, and you should know which one they are to correctly identify them to not accidentally eat food that has gone bad. The dates are coded, and can be an open-date or closed code.

This article will cover all the types of expiration date codes that are labeled on Trader Joe’s products, as well as how to identify them and read them correctly. Furthermore, we will also tell you how those expiration dates are determined, as well as how to maximize a Trader Joe’s product shelf life.

Understanding the Format of Trader Joe’s Expiration Dates

Trader Joe’s produces a diverse range of products, each with its own expiration date format. Some may be written as ‘Best by’ while some will have calendar dates.

Here we’ll list all of them as well as tell you how to accurately read the expiration dates of different products. 

Numbered Expiration Date

These dates are written in the calendar date format ‘040622’ (month-day-year) and are comprised of six numbers. The example above is interpreted as the 6th day of the 4th month, year 2022, which makes the expiration date 6 April, 2022. 

Coded Expiration Date

Coded dates are written with alphabets and letters mixed, with the alphabets being first and numbers following. 

The date could look something like: ‘D0622’ which would again translate to 6 April, 2022. The numbers following the alphabet represent the day and year.

The alphabet ‘D’ represents the month, D being the 4th alphabet would be a representative of April, the 4th month of the year. Likewise, January would be A, February would be B, and so on. 

Can Code

Can code is also a form of a coded expiration date with alphabets allotted to the months. The year and days are represented by numbers. 

7-Digit Expiration Date (Julian Calendar Code)

There are some products which also tell you the date it was manufactured along with the ‘Best by” date. This 7-digits code is in the format DDDYYLL, with the L being the Sun ridge Lot Number.

Months are not represented in this code, only days of the year, for example, ‘0962243’ would be the 96th day of the year 2022, which makes the manufacturing date: 6th April, 2022. 

4-Digit Date Code

This date code is in the format YYWW, with Y being the year and W being the week of the year. For example, 6 April, 2022 would be written as 2214, with 14 being the number of week 6th April lies in and 22 being the year’s last 2 digits.

3M Date Code

This date code again is like the 7-digit date code with a few changes. This date code tells you the manufacturing date and is in the format #AYYDDD, with A being the letter, followed by the year and day of manufacture. Thus 6 April, 2022 in this format would be: #K2296

Date Stamp

Usually on car seats, this stamp is in the form of a clock, with numbers labeled 1-12. This stamp shows you the month of manufacture, with one hand of the clock pointing towards the month it was manufactured. So if the seat was manufactured in April, the clock hand would point to 4.

Factors That Can Affect the Shelf Life of Trader Joe’s Products

There are various factors that can affect the shelf life of Trader Joe’s products, which depends on how the customer stores the product after purchase.

This is also the main reason why some Trader Joe’s products may have an MFG (manufacturing) date but not an expiry date, for example their frozen foods line, because their expiration depends on how they’re stored.

Here we’ll look at some determinant of Trader Joe’s product’s shelf life:

  • Time
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Packaging

If a product was bought frozen, then it must also be stored frozen, otherwise it’ll go bad very quickly. Furthermore, if you bought something that was vacuum packed, chances are that it’ll need to be stored in the same or similar packaging.

It’s important that customers follow the storage instructions listed on the packaging, to extend the product’s shelf life. 

Tips for Maximizing the Shelf Life of Trader Joe’s Products

To make the most of the Trader Joe’s products that you’ve bought, we recommend a few tips and tricks to use to preserve your food:

  1. For items with an expiry date, use before they expire or freeze for prolonged usage. Food items can be dehydrated and stored for a longer period of time if you want to use them later.
  2. For products that need a colder temperature to be refrigerated or frozen, put them in the part of the refrigerator/freezer that receives the coldest temperature.
  3. Store frozen items as is and the vacuum sealed ones in an airtight compartment/box.
  4. Monitor the products regularly for a smell and any indication of spoiling.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Read Coded Expiration Dates?

Coded expiration dates are written in the format MDDYY, and the months are represented by subsequent letters of the alphabet. For example, A1522 translates to 15 January, 2022. 

Why Doesn’t Trader Joe’s Frozen Food Have Expiration Dates?

Since the shelf life of Trader Joe’s frozen food line depends on how well the customers store it according to the product’s storing instructions, the frozen foods don’t have a specific expiration date written on them. 

Does Trader Joe’s Frozen Food Expire?

Yes, like every food item, it does expire. However, with the correct freezing mechanism, you can use the frozen food for as long as you want without it expiring. 

How Do You Read the 7-Digit Expiration Date?

This expiration date is in the format DDDYYLL, with L being the Sun ridge Lot Number. Months are not represented in this code, only days of the year, for example, ‘0962243’ would be the 96th day of the year 2022, which makes the manufacturing date: 6th April, 2022.

Final Thoughts

For the safety of your health, it’s important to know which food has gone bad so you don’t accidentally ingest it. To accurately determine the expiry date of Trader Joe’s products, first look for a ‘Use by’, ‘Best before’ or ‘Expiry date’ label on the packaging.

Afterwards, you can decode the expiry date by looking at the numbers/alphabets and determining which kind of code it is. 

By now we hope you know everything about the different kind of expiry dates and codes written on Trader Joe’s food product packaging, and can accurately identify if the food you have bought has gone bad or not.


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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