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CPG Products with 4 Most Common Date-Labeling Phrases

Product code date labeling is an excellent way for CPG manufacturers – especially in the food and beverage industry – to maintain brand reputation through communicating to retailers and customers the best usage timeframes for optimal product quality.

When using a date coder like the Redimark TC12 thermal inkjet printer, with up to six lines of text and special characters, the possibility of codes and messages are endless. So what is right for your product? If going with the most widely-used phrases, you can turn to the USDA and Packaging Digest for guidance.



as described by the USDA are:

  1. Best if Used By/Before – date indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality.  It is not a purchase or safety date.
  2. Sell-By – date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management.  It is not a safety date. 
  3. Use-By – date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula as described below.
  4. Freeze-By – date indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.


In Looking for the Best Date Code, by Packaging Digest, food and beverage manufacturers were asked, “which phrase was preferred to use, ‘Best by’ won out at 59%. Surprisingly, the next highest option was ‘Other’ at 19%…we see a lot of variety in the way companies indicate freshness, some quite creative.”  Some of the submissions for the “Other” category were:

    • “Guaranteed fresh until printed date”
    • “Discard after”
    • “Best served before”
    • “Expiration date”


Packaging Digest Pie Chart


Brands are putting a new spin on the traditional date-labeling phrases to add their voice and personality to their product’s expiry date, lot or batch code messaging. Crafting variations of the four most common phrases to better connect their brand to customers. Something as simple as using ‘enjoy by’ versus ‘best by’ still communicates the date range when a product is at peak freshness, but in a way many customers find more personable and engaging.

Uinta Brewing takes full advantage of their product code messaging by adding campaign tags or #packtheuinta which directs customers to lifestyle images and adventures featuring Uinta craft brews across social media platforms.

#packtheuinta Instagram

How are you coding?

Are you using one of the four most common date-labeling phrases, or have you modified or changed it up altogether? Share with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn with the tag #MyProductCode.

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