The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour Product coding information

wheat's picture

Flour Product coding information

I recently found out how to tell when a bag of Bob's red mill flour was produced, ergo how long has it been sitting on the shelf.

I always buy the whole wheat flour, and there are two sets of 4-digit numbers in the vicinity of the expiration date. Here is how to decode them:


The first set, specifies the date that they got the wheat. First digit is the year, and the next three digits are the day of that year.

For example, 8112 mens that they got the wheat on the 112th day (counting from Jan first) of the year 2008. 


The secod set specifies when they packaged the flour, e.g. 8130 means that this flour was packaged on the 130th day of the year 2008.


The milling date is not specified but it is of course in the bracket of the first and the second date, and the two dates are usually close (two weeks or so), so this will give you a good idea of when it was milled and how long it has been sitting on the supermarket shelf. 


(Minor detail, the dates that they use is based on Julian calendar. Don't ask my why! However it is not a big deal, as

Julian calendar is only a few days apart from the Georgian Calendar, i.e. the usual calendar that we use every day)


Btw, does any one know how to decode the same information for King Arthur flour?


blaisepascal's picture

I think it's highly unlikely that the codes would be based on the Julian Calendar, the calendar system instituted in Rome by Julius Caesar, but would be much more likely to be based on the Julian date, more properly called the "Ordinal Date", which consists of a year and day-of-year indication. The codes you describe seem like a sensible variant of the ordinal date.

(The true Julian Day/Date is a day count from 1 Jan 4713BC, Julian proleptic calendar, and is often claimed to be named after Julius Scaliger, the father of the inventor of the scheme, Joseph Scaliger, in 1583. It's used by astronomers who want to be able to refer to dates over a long period of time without having to worry about calendar changes, etc. Because it's a simple day count, the name has gotten attached to other systems which are simple day counts.)