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Expert reveals the food packet secrets you’ll wish you’d known sooner and what those colored dots REALLY mean

WE often grab our grocery items without much thought to exactly what’s on the packaging, because, well, why would we?

But 28-year-old Maneet Kaur, from Leicester, recently revealed how doing so can actually save you loads of money thanks to “secret” batch codes.

Our food packaging is filled with codes and symbols we might not always understand

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Our food packaging is filled with codes and symbols we might not always understandCredit: Getty
Food safety expert Jenna Brown, also known as the Food Safety Mum, explains what some of the items on food labels mean

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Food safety expert Jenna Brown, also known as the Food Safety Mum, explains what some of the items on food labels meanCredit: Jenna Brown

In the viral TikTok clips, Maneet compared a 53p 500g packet of penne pasta from Tesco with a packet by Hearty Food Co that was on sale for 29p.

Both items had identical batch codes on the back, so Maneet claimed they were made in the same place and that shoppers were spending 24p more for the Tesco packaging.

Fabulous spoke to food safety expert Jenna Brown, also known as the Food Safety Mum, who said despite the code being the same, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the exact same product.

She explains: “Whilst you can use the coding on packaging to identify the same manufacturer, this does not mean that this is the same product is simply being packaged in different packaging.

“The recipe formulation for the products is often unique to each individual brand, for example, a supermarket own brand recipe may well be inferior to a ‘luxury’ or ‘finest’ branded item resulting in a different product despite them being manufactured at the same site (even on the same production line!).

But that’s not the only detail on food packaging that usually goes unnoticed, and we have all the answers you need.

Best Before and Used By dates

While the best before and used-by date isn’t exactly unknown, there are some key differences between the two some people might not be aware of.

“A ‘Best before’ date (otherwise known as BBE or Best before end) is provided for quality purposes. While a use-by date is provided for safety reasons,” the food safety expert explains.

Unlike the use-by date, food is safe to be eaten past the BBE date, but avoid consuming anything after the use-by date shown.

Another date that you may see on food packaging is ‘Display until’ however, this is for the retailer only and can be ignored by consumers.

Colored Dots

Last year, TikTok user Sonya Gonzalez Mier pointed out the row of colored dots often seen on packets of crisps and other packaged foods.

The woman, who works in food marketing, revealed that they’re actually referred to as “color control patches” and it’s used in the factory when the packaging is being printed.

“They are color control patches, we need them because the colors that you see on the packaging are not actually the colors that we’re printing. Let me explain…,” she said.

“To choose the colors that you see on the packaging, we actually layer colors and the color patches are the colors we are layering on top of each other to achieve the colors you see.

“To make sure the colors are correct, we look at the color control patches and if they’re slightly off, we know that the whole packaging will be off.”

Julian Date Codes

Another mystery item that’s included on food items is what’s commonly referred at ‘Julian Date’ codes.

Jenna explains: “This is a universal date coding system which allows manufacturers to identify the exact time (for example the factory, production line, date & time) that the food was packaged.

“This can then be used for traceability purposes in response to complaints or recalls.”

The food safety expert revealed that the Julian date code is always in a 24-hour format to prevent any confusion.

Vegan Trademark

If you’ve cut out animal products from your diet then you’d be looking for the Vegan Trademark on your food packaging.

The good news is that all products featuring the logo are safe for vegans to consume but the same can’t be said if you’re allergic.

Jenna explains: “A product may be suitable for vegans, but this does not mean that the product does not have a ‘may contain’ allergen warning for animal-based allergies (such as egg & milk).

“This means there could still be a risk of cross-contamination with these allergens during manufacture.”

For more food shopping hacks, mums have shared their epic discounted Tesco hauls – and how they bagged a few weeks’s worth of food on the cheap

And this mum-of-three shows off her kids’ super-organized snack and dinner menus which she’s sorted a MONTH in advance.

Plus shoppers show off their Boxing Day bargains including a £65 Tu coat for just £1 & Pandora jewels down from £80 to £24.

You’ve been opening your Haribo all wrong – here’s how to make sure they NEVER spill

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/food/17394369/food-packet-secret-codes-revealed-expert/ Expert reveals the food packet secrets you’ll wish you’d known sooner and what those colored dots REALLY mean

Emma Bowman

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