Our site displays the Date Codes of various products. This Date Code is the "Chodosh Code" as termed by Rabbi Herman's Guide to Chodosh- that date at which a product becomes Chodosh. This is always determined by the Manufacturing Date Code listed on a product. Manufacturing Date Codes are done by various methods, yet they all convey the date of packing. Some Date Codes are actual Packing Dates, others must be deciphered. These include Julian Dates, Best By Dates, and Product Codes. Different companies use different methods.
All Yoshon calculations will come from the Start Date for the particular type of Grain Ingredient in the product. Typically, Oats become Chodosh in July, Spring Wheat and Barley in August, and Barley Malt in December. Rye is a Winter crop, and Spelt in the USA is usually always Yoshon, as is Winter Wheat. The Yoshon status of the product is determined by two factors, the Date Code, and the Start Date of the the Grain Ingredient. 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:
These are also Packing Dates, but 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, 2010 (8/31 being the 243rd day of the year), the Julian Code could be 0243 or 2430.
Best By Dates:
These are the dates with the Shelf Life 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:
These are dates in the Julian format as mentioned above, with the Shelf Life added onto the year. If the year is 2010, and the Packing Date was October 16th (day 289) with a 2-year Shelf Life, the code could be 28912 or 12289.
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 AA03316XX. The AA may be a factory idententity and the XX 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!
A Note About the "Malt Date":
If your Rav goes by the opinion that the amount of Barley Malt (Malt or Malt Extract) is "Botul" 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. Happy deciphering!