Most bakery and pharmacy related food items are "sell by" or "best by" dated, which is easy for you and I to understand.
Some refrigerated and canned manufactures use this form of dating.
My reply as a consumer is - "why should I have to call the company". Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system.
Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year.
The purchase of food should not fall under the "buyer beware" category.
Selling food past the expiration date in some cases is not a violation of FDA's regulations or law.
To explain, FDA's regulations pertain, among other things, to food safety.
The quality characteristics of foods (taste, aroma and appearance--as distinct from safety characteristics) often depend in great part on good storage conditions: temperature and humidity control in the retail store and warehouse.
Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture.
Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile.
Below is a sampling of how some manufacturers code their products so consumers know when the product was packaged.