Your daily bread: Twist-tie colors denote freshness

October 17, 2018

For many of us, fresh bread—crispy and crusty on the outside, soft and fragrant on the inside—is one of life’s daily joys. But did you know that, even at the supermarket, there is a way to tell whether the loaf you are buying is fresh from the oven?

Take a closer look at the twist ties that keep each loaf tightly wrapped. According to an October 12 report by Prevention magazine, the color of each tie or plastic tab indicates on which day of the week the bread was baked.

This color-coding is not an urban legend or a trade secret, confirms the fact-checking website, Snopes. Bread is delivered to the supermarket each day, except Wednesday and Sunday—and the color-coded ties on the bags provide a quick visual reference to employees about when each loaf should be removed from the shelves.

The established color code is as follows:

  • Mondays: blue,
  • Tuesdays: green,
  • Thursdays: red,
  • Fridays: white, and
  • Saturdays: yellow.

Overall, this system will work for you. Ideally, you want to choose a loaf that was delivered on the same day you’re shopping, and on Wednesdays and Sundays, opt for a loaf delivered the day before.

Snopes warns, “By the by, some of these tags actually do have [best by] dates printed on them, and in those cases the date does represent the date the bread is to be removed from the store; not the date it was baked on.”

In addition, there is one caveat: Not all groceries and supermarkets apply this color system to every loaf at the store. Since there is no industry standard, some bread makers may choose to  use their own unique color systems—or they may not color-code their twist ties at all. Snopes points out that, if you have a preferred bread brand, you can always contact the manufacturer and ask whether they use any color-coded system indicating their delivery schedule.

It’s also worth noting that most stores won’t keep bread on the shelves for more than two days, which isn’t enough to make a real difference in the freshness of the bread. The color-coded twist ties help the store employees quickly identify which loaves to swap with fresher bread, so there’s constant turnover in the bread available to buy.

At the very least, you’re never going to buy a stale loaf of bread. But if you notice many different colored twist ties among the bread at your grocery store, you may want to inquire what kind of tag system they use—or switch supermarkets.

Research contact: @Snopes

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