TESCO has baffled a shopper by claiming the best-before date should be decoded using the Julian calendar.
Twitter user Matthew Stock asked the supermarket what exactly it meant by the use by date “20140”, which left him unable to decode the expiry date on his burger relish.
The sachet of relish was packaged inside a burger pack that also contained two meat patties, two buns and two slices of cheese.
The code gave no explanation as to what the 14th month could be – or whether it actually meant the year 2040.
Matthew asked: “Hello there Tesco, could you please explain this expiry date please?”
Tesco worker Maggie initially replied suggesting it could mean 2nd of January 2040 – asking the shopper to submit a photograph of the bar code to help solve the mystery.
The conversation then took another turn when she replied suggesting his expiry date could be written in another calendar altogether.
Maggie wrote: “I have had a response from my support team. They have advised the date code on the relish only is the Julian date. 20140 is the 140th day. This translated into the Gregorian calendar is the 20th May 2020.”
The Julian calendar hasn’t been used in Britain since 1752, which is when the now widely-used Gregorian system was introduced.
The response (obviously) surprised the shopper who wrote: “Are you serious? Surely that’s not a legitimate way of dating products? That still don’t help me.”
Matthew then also retweeted the thread and said: “So can anyone get there head around this??”
The tweet has since gone viral online with shoppers tweeting the grocer with bizarre codes, and asking for Maggie to crack it.
Several people also claimed that Maggie’s date conversion was incorrect, claiming that May 20 in 2020 is in fact 20141 on the Julian calendar.
One user said: “The best before date on this ready meal I got just says ‘the second blood moon of the vernal equinox’. Can you assist?”
While another joked: “Any chance this could be a MS Excel sequential date serial number? That would make the sell-by date the 20th February 1955 which, let’s face it, is pretty bad.”
Tesco told The Sun that it’s only the sachet that showed the odd use by date, and that the packaging shows an expiry date in the Gregorian calendar.
The supermarket added that it’s also contacted the supplier to find out how why it was dated this way.
Food producers and manufacturers have to include either a best before or use by date on their food by law.
Supermarkets and retailers can legally sell produce that has passed its best before date, but cannot sell food that has passed its use by date.
This is because use by dates indicate when a product may no longer be safe to eat, while best before dates are an indication of quality rather than safety.
You can still eat food after its best before date, but it might not taste as good as before the date.
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