Product traceability requires the tracking of batch lot numbers. Batch and lot numbers are often used interchangeably to reference a category of similar products produced under the same conditions.
Lot numbers facilitate tracking of the product and its ingredients. In turn, stakeholders in the supply chain can calculate expiration dates and perform other quality control checks.
Lot Expiration Date Number: How to Check It?
Product traceability requires understanding, identifying, and tracking the movement of food substances or ingredients through all stages of production, processing, and distribution.
Throughout the supply chain manufacturers use lot numbers to identify any given product, and track their unique movements and expiry dates. Lot number and expiration date play a pivotal role in food safety compliance as they make the process of quality control and recalls more efficient.
Many companies have leveraged inventory management solutions to efficiently track lots batches. Enterprise Resource Planning software with lot tracking capabilities is preferable because of additional features that enable complete traceability in one place.
The right ERP system will help you tackle the inventory challenges that stem from large numbers of lots in your warehouse. IFS is an example of an ERP that is preferred for lot expiration tracking. It simplifies tracking per-stock-unit information from the point of receipt to the shipping of products from your facility.
Through automation, the data is accurately recorded and permanently saved into your database so you have quick access for quality control and expiration date confirmation.
IFS Inventory generates a clear audit trail of lot changes and will track each lot received, sold, manufactured, or returned. It offers an easy way to look up expiration date by lot number and how to tell expiration date from lot number.
How to Check Expiration Date from Lot Number
Currently, there is no consensus about identifying or labeling expiration dates by lot number. Food dating is a voluntary process not mandated by the Food and Drug Administration. Except for infant formula, the FDA does not require manufacturers to date their products, and there are no federal laws governing product dating.
Typically, manufacturers use ‘best before,’ ‘use by,’ and ‘sell by’ to give consumers an idea on the days for which a product remains safe. Arriving at these dates require a lot tracking system in the background to identify product details, year of manufacture or crop harvesting date and possible expiration dates.
Unlike food packaging, cosmetic products or beauty products with a shelf life exceeding 30 months will not come with an indicated expiration or use by date.
Check Expiration Date by Lot Number Identification
The content, format, and syntax of the lot number can vary from one enterprise to another, depending on the desired degree of precision.
The lot number can identify all the products made in a day at the facility or products produced in an hour from a single individual packing line. The lot number could also be unique to a single recipe run.
The lot number on a product is in various places, including:
- Within your lot tracking or ERP software
- On the outside packaging so it’s visible to consumers
- Within the supplier or manufacturer records
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How to Find Expiration Date by Lot Number
Lot number example: 190322403
- The first two digits (19) refer to the year of manufacture (2019)
- The next two digits (03) identify the month the product was manufactured (March) or the date of manufacture
- The following two numerals (22) refer to the day of the year
- The next figure (4) is the company plant number
- The figures (03) represent the product batch of on that day
Given that lot numbers sometimes consist of lengthy combinations, there is a high risk for human error during the recording process.
Mistakes in recording and tracking could create severe quality control issues and costly recalls. A traceability ERP solution with batch code scanning capabilities can help to minimize these errors, quickly scan batch numbers, and identify the lot expiration dates, or the safe-to-eat number and the sell-by-date numbers.
How to Read Lot Number Expiration Date
The IFS system is customizable in the way you handle batch labels in your company. Whether you identify expiration dates by lot IDs, product IDs, or UPCs, the software will help you organize this data in a way that complies with your requirements.
You can similarly leverage alerts in this lot tracking solution to monitor products with a short expiration date. The integration of your purchasing, sales, and inventory management solutions, among others, will prevent the risk of your employees mixing up lots identified as expired.
The Bottom Line
The manual tracking of lot number expiration date is a painstaking process with a propensity for costly errors. An inventory management solution can help to automate the process. Traceability ERP software works even better, owing to the centralization of all your applications.