Our site displays the Date Codes of various products. This Date Code is the “Chodosh Cutoff Date”, which is the actual date in which a product starts to become Chodosh.
This is always determined by the Packing or Manufacturing Date of a product. Packing Date Codes (sometimes known as “Lot Codes”) are often printed on a product, and various formats are used depending on the brand or company, but they all convey the date of packing. Some Date Codes listed on our website Yoshon.com are the actual Packing Dates, in usual secular Gregorian Dates, but others must be deciphered. These include Julian Dates, Best By Dates, and Product Codes. Different companies use different methods.
All Yoshon calculations will be determined from this Chodosh Cutoff Date for the particular type of Grain Ingredient in the product. These start dates change every year, since all planting dates are based on the Hebrew date of two days before Passover. Typically, Oats become Chodosh in mid to late July, Spring Wheat and Barley in August, and Barley Malt in December. Rye and Spelt are a Winter crop in the USA and Canada, and is always Yoshon.
The Yoshon status of a product is determined by two factors, the Date Code, and the Start Date of the the specific Grain Ingredient. If there are multiple grains, it goes by the earliest grain. A handy printable list of General Start Dates can be downloaded from our site.
The “Start Date” or “Cut-Off Date” is the actual date when a product becomes Chodosh. This means that any date before that is going to be Yoshon. So, in a year where the Start Date for Wheat is August 15th, a package of Wheat crackers with a Best By Date of August 15th is Chodosh. However, a package with a Best By Date of August 14th is Yoshon. The relation of Packing Date to Shelf Life is vital to figuring out the Yoshon Status on any Date Code other than an actual Packing Date. This will be explained later. For those unusual products which have only a month and a year (such as Aug 2019 or AUG 19) the Chodosh Date would be considered August 1, 2019. Any date before that (July 2019) would be Yoshon.
If you know the shelf life of a product, it is easier to figure out the Date Code from the general list of Start Dates (refer to our handy printable sheet). This is why we include the Shelf Life of products. For instance, you have a box of wheat-only cookies with a shelf life of 9 months. If you refer to the Start Dates, you see that this year, the Wheat cutoff packing date is August 2nd. That means that the Date Code in which the cookies start to become Chodosh is May 2nd of the following year. So you look at your Best By Date on the package, and it’s February 15th. Your cookies are Yoshon!
Types of Date Codes
Packing Dates can be listed either by the Gregorian Date (the typical secular calendar) or by the Julian Date (numbered days of the year). These are the most obvious and helpful Date Codes of all. If you know an actual date of packing, you will automatically know if a product is Yoshon or Chodosh in relation to the Start Date. As stated above in “Chodosh Date”, occasionally a product will be listed only by a month and year. Although it seems pretty confusing, it is actually very simple.
Gregorian Packing Dates:
Below is a Granola Bar with an actual Gregorian Packing Date. If the year is 2015, and the item was packed February 1st, the actual Packing Date is Feb 1, 2015.
Julian Packing Dates:
Also known as “Lot Codes”, these are listed with the day of the year (February 1st being Day 032) and the last number of the year listed either before or after it. If the Packing Date was August 31, 2021 (Aug 31st being the 243rd day of the year), the Julian Code could be listed as either 1243 or 2431.
Sometimes it can be as 5 digits. If the Packing Date was August 31, 2021 using the above example, the Julian Code could be listed as either 21243 or 24321.
(See our Julian Date Cheat Sheets for helpful deciphering.)
Best By Dates:
These are the dates with the Shelf Life time added on. The package of cereal below has a Shelf Life of 360 days (5 days less than 1 year). If the item was packed August 13, 2012 with a Shelf Life of 360 days, the Best By Date would be August 8, 2013.
Julian Best By Dates:
Although not very common, these are dates in the Julian format as mentioned above, with the Shelf Life added onto the year. If the year is 2020, and the Packing Date was October 16th (day 289) with a 2-year Shelf Life, the code could be 28922 or 22289.
Packing Date Codes or Lot Codes:
These usually require explanation and are a bit harder to figure out, but not at all impossible when you know what it really means. It is explained parenthetically in the Date Code section on our site. Sometimes it will be a Julian Date, other times a Packing or Best By Date, but usually it has some superfluous numbers or letters before or after the Date Code. Suppose a product has a code AA03316ZZ. The AA may be a factory identity and the ZZ may be shift information. The real code is in between- 033 is February 2nd, and the 16 is the year in which it was packed. In our example below of 9078124, the 9 is a useless (to us) shift number, the 078 is March 19th (the 78th day), the 12 is 2012, and the 4 is a plant identifier (also not needed by us). Mystery solved, the Packing Date is March 19, 2012!
Most often, the packing date is the first 4 or 5 digits, but if a code as below is listed on our site, it will be explained in parenthesis after the code.
A Note About the “Malt Date”:
If your Rav goes by the opinion that the amount of Barley Malt (Malt or Malt Extract) is “Batul” or so insignificant of an amount added to flour that it doesn’t matter, then you don’t need to worry about the Malt Date. If your Rav does hold that it matters, then check on the package of your product for the Best By Date. If Malt appears in the ingredients, find the Best By Date which is listed in “Date Code” in “Additional Info”.
The Date Code system for keeping Yoshon can sound very intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. As you look up products on our site, simply click on “Additional Info” to see all the pertinent information you need. We have another page that explains more on “How to Calculate Date Codes”.