Friday 8 August 2008


Everyone seems to be talking about the date today. In my little world, today's date is refreshingly free from the confusion that I usually face as an American working at a Japanese food company in the UK.

Our products all require a 'best before' date, called an expiry date in the UK, as opposed to an 'expiration date' in the States, or a 'shomi kigen' in Japan. What makes our job at work even harder is that each region has a different convention for writing the date.

Japan uses year/month/day

Europe & the UK write it day/month/year

We, the confused Americans, insist on month/day/year, which I have to admit doesn't make much sense.

No wonder, then, that I often gets calls from customers asking about products that appear to be out of date already. I have to assure them that 08.11.07 means 'best before 7 November 2008,' not that the product actually expired on the 8th of November last year. But it gets even more complicated with the few products we import from the States. The same date would mean August 11, 2007 in my native California!

This is why I insist that our labels are printed in DD MON YYYY format, with the first three letters of the month spelled out.

But today, it doesn't matter! I gleefully scrawled 08/08/08 on everything. Tiny pleasures, eh?

So in the spirit of the day, I am now watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony (taped earlier). Must say, I'm impressed so far. Can't say I agree with the way that China has gone about their planning, but I still love the Olympics despite myself.

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