Sale of Products with Julian Coding Must Cease Immediately – Council

July 8, 2022

The Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) is issuing a stern reminder to supermarkets and other stores that the use of Julian code as date marking for food products is not permitted under Fiji’s Food Safety Act and Regulations.

Despite raising alert on the same issue in 2019, the latest string of market surveillance by the Council has revealed certain supermarkets in the Central, Western and Northern Division were still found retailing food products such as canned fruits and candies which had Julian coding instead of the required ‘best before’ or ‘expiry’ date.

The Julian code date system uses a coded numerical sequence for determining the expiry date which is unlikely to be understood by an ordinary consumer under normal conditions of purchase.

The use of Julian coding is contrary to the Food Safety Regulation 21(10)(b) which states:

“The expiration date shall be declared by the words “use-by..”or “expiry date …” or “expiration date…” or “exp..,” and these words shall be accompanied by the date itself in uncoded numerical sequence except that the month may be indicated by letters”.

CCoF Chief Executive Officer Ms Seema Shandil says that the Council is taking this stance against the use of Julian coding in our market as consumers may not be able to decode and determine the expiry dates of products.

“Consumers have a right to information such as product expiry date before they finalize their purchases. Use of Julian coding infringes on this right as consumers will have no idea if the product is near expiry or expired,” said Ms Shandil

The Council has also discovered that certain supermarkets have the understanding that they can retail products with Julian coding if they decode it themselves and display the expiry or shelf life.

“There are no provisions under the current legislations which allows for businesses to decode the Julian coding themselves and display it for consumers. This self-decoding can easily be used to manipulate expiry and used by dates hence, should not be practiced,” added Ms Shandil.

Food and Drinks retailers are urged to immediately cease the retail of products with Julian codes and products with self-decoded dates. The Council is also calling on the Ministry of Health and Medical Services who are the custodian of the Food Safety Act to take action against businesses which are still retailing products with such coding.

Consumers who come across supermarkets retailing products with Julian coding are encouraged to contact the Council on the toll-free number 155. Alternatively, consumers can lodge complaints using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app or via the Council’s website