Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Best (check) Before

I don’t want to kill, cripple, or otherwise infect myself by eating out of date food. I would have thought the food industry doesn’t want me to either, if not through fear of lawsuits then because I am a guaranteed future income for them. Its not always the case however.

This jar of honey, for example, has printed on its underside ‘best by Mar 09.’ Helpful, easy.

This can of soup however, isn’t so helpful. Printed on its underside is ‘FF154225OCTA2.’ Yes, I see 25OCT amongst the other alphanumerics—standing out like a special forces sniper in a jungle—but only because I was stubborn enough to insist there was a date in there and kept looking till I saw it. Of course, it doesn’t say 25OCT is the ‘best by’ date. For all I know printing 25OCT on everything was the machine operators way of not forgetting his wedding anniversary again. If 25OCT is the expiration date, the question of what year the soupy contents becomes toxic to my person is anyone’s guess. The chunks in chunky soup are hard to identify at the best of times so I don’t rate my chances of working out which ones have grown in the can since it was sealed.

Then there’s the complete mystery stamp. This can of peaches has ‘619C5 1616’ printed on it, though it is hard to make out (only the top half of the digits are in italic you see). This code, I’m sure, comes in handy when the empty can is pried from the hand of a newly deceased digester of its contents, and is checked against a peach packaging database by investigators. The code may reveal such information as which factory sealed the can and where it was delivered to; or it may confirm an extreme case of out-of-dateness, and that a deadly virus that grows exclusively in out of date cans of peaches was likely involved. I don’t have access to such a database so I don’t want to risk my well being on its contents. No matter how organic it purports to be. But a Google search of the first part of the code tells me that if the 619C5 is referring to a computer chip, it is indeed way out of date.

So here’s the theory. The longest lasting foods have the most cryptic codes on the packaging. You see, if the can’s contents have a shorter shelf life they put on a clear best before stamp, that date comes and goes, I throw it out and replace it. But if it’s a can of food that lasts a really long time…well they wont make any new profits off me if they put on a clear best before date will they? So they slap on an ambiguous code, spread a few urban myths about mad peach disease, knowing that when I look at the base of the can I will have to err on the side of caution, throw it out and go buy some more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Big Hit

I'm really not into sports so I don't know how cool it is to have a friend in a Superbowl ad. But here it is, Eric hitting on Carmen and then getting hit by her body gaurds. Incidentaly, he reports she's really nice in person, none of that "My trailer is the wrong shade of pink; where's my tantrum advisor; I only eat fat-free, low-cholesterol, protein-enriched grains of rice" stuff.