Originally Posted by taxlady
I can't find a "best before" date on my ketchup.
Some products may not even have any manufactured or use-by date, or the manufacture date may be coded. I'm uncomfortable not knowing anything about something that's been stored for who knows how long?
My solution: I use a permanent marker and put my own date on every bottled and packaged product I buy, particularly condiments. I use a 4 digit system, date then year. For example it's December 2011 so anything I buy this month is 1211. Next month I'll be using 0112.
This may seem a bit obsessive but it's so simple to do, and then when you find some condiment in your fridge that's been hiding in the back at least you'll know how long it has been there. I've found stuff 4-5 years old (and older) and at some point I think it's best to toss something really old and get a new one. Or maybe if you use it that seldom maybe you might decide to just not buy any more. Each can be their own judge, but with your own number at least you have some information beyond odor and appearance.
One additional benefit, you can adopt a first-in-first out (FIFO) system. For example if you have several cans of tomato sauce in your pantry you can use the oldest one instead of using a newer one and having one in the back that's been there gathering dust for years.