What does the month "MA" stand for?

1

I have a box of chocolates that has a best before date of: "2015 MA 12".

What does "MA" stand for?

May? Or March? Which one?

ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

Posted 2015-02-13T04:54:56.857

Reputation: 2 202

3I would advise you to make sure the chocolates are eaten before March, just to be sure. It's Valentine's day tomorrow, so maybe that can offer an opportunity to get the chocolates consumed :) – oerkelens – 2015-02-13T07:27:47.947

2I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about how a specific manufacturer chooses to abbreviate. – Chenmunka – 2015-02-13T08:57:58.973

5I'm voting to reopen because an EFL learner doesn't know if this is a common convention in English. Also, it's not about a specific manufacturer, it's actually a common convention. – Ben Kovitz – 2015-02-13T12:50:17.253

2

Same issue addressed at ELU: "Best Before" says "11 MA 23"; is it May or March?

– None – 2015-02-13T15:46:43.227

Really, you have a 3-year-old, or older, box of chocolates? – None – 2015-02-13T15:51:05.483

Not necessarily: Truffels for example often have a best-before-date of only a few months due to high fat/butter content. – Stephie – 2015-02-13T16:53:15.287

Please wait another day or two before accepting an answer. This invites more people to look into it. For one thing, we don't yet know if this is a Canadian convention, a North American convention, or what. For more info about why it's good to allow time for multiple answers, please see this meta post.

– Ben Kovitz – 2015-02-13T18:41:57.337

1OK, I unchecked it. – ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq – 2015-02-13T18:42:22.217

Answers

8

A Google search for "MA March or May" returns several results stating that in two-letter abbreviations for best before dates, MR stands for March and MA stands for May.

From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

The bilingual symbols for the months in the durable life date are as follows [B.01.007(5), FDR]:

JA for JANUARY
FE for FEBRUARY
MR for MARCH
AL for APRIL
MA for MAY
JN for JUNE
JL for JULY
AU for AUGUST
SE for SEPTEMBER
OC for OCTOBER
NO for NOVEMBER
DE for DECEMBER

pyobum

Posted 2015-02-13T04:54:56.857

Reputation: 2 440

Good answer. However this indicates that the question is about an industry-based coding system, not a question about the English Language. – user3169 – 2015-02-13T06:04:44.983

2@user3169 Good point. I have actually already close-voted simply because the answer was so easy to find (it took me under a minute to search for and locate the source I quoted), but I figured I'd save the OP the trouble and answer the question while it's still open. – pyobum – 2015-02-13T06:07:56.017

Is this just a Canadian convention resulting from an attempt to avoid showing favoritism to English or French, or does it have wider currency? – Ben Kovitz – 2015-02-13T21:51:46.877

@BenKovitz I will look into that when I get to my office on Monday and post my findings. I imagine it applies at least to the US as well since I've seen the same format used on US packaging, but I know a credible source is much better than anecdotal evidence. – pyobum – 2015-02-14T09:30:07.940

I'm having trouble tracking down other authoritative sources that gives conventions for two-letter month abbreviations on packaging, but I did find a very similar question (and a similar answer to my own from a grocery store worker) that gives weight to the English/French balancing act that goes on in Canada. Dating formats vary from country to country, and the two-month letter abbreviation seems rare.

– pyobum – 2015-02-16T04:47:34.463