How to Decipher Dog-Food Labels: Dates and Shelf Life

What Is a Product Code?

A product code is a series of numbers and letters printed on the outer package of each product that a manufacturer produces to provide information about when the product was made.

As part of the product code, products manufactured by The IAMS™ Company include a "Best Used By" date, or the date at which the product is no longer considered fresh and should no longer be sold. This date is expressed in “ddmmyy” and “ddmmmyy” formats (line 1 below).

The second line represents company internal information for use in traceability and inventory control (line 2).


Depending upon the production line, pouch products might have code date information in a single or double line.

By recognizing and understanding these codes, customers can make sure they are receiving a fresh product.

 

What Is Shelf Life?

Shelf life is the duration, measured in months, during which a product that is stored properly maintains its freshness. This means that if a product has a 16-month shelf life, it is fresh for up to 16 months from the date of manufacture.

The shelf life for our dry dog and cat foods is 16 months. All canned and pouch formulas have a shelf life of 24 months. Biscuits have a 12-month shelf life, and sauce formulas have a 16-month shelf life.

 

What Is the Proper Way to Store Dry and Canned Products?

Unopened dry products are best stored off of the floor in a cool, dry place. Open bags of food should be stored in a clean, dry container with a tight seal. Dry products also might be frozen without loss of nutrients.

Opened wet products are best kept refrigerated in tightly sealed containers for no more than three days after the can has been opened. Wet products should not be frozen in unopened cans or pouches. However, wet foods can be frozen if removed from the container, packed in freezer containers and frozen immediately.