Best Before Conspiracy

Posted 2010.03.02 9.31 in Life On Drugs, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

When I’m at the grocery store, buying perishable products, I’m always careful to check the expiry dates (aka Best Before dates.) I can’t afford to throw food out so I’m always very careful not to buy short-dated stuff.

Especially milk (aka half-and-half creamer). Gotta have some widener in my coffee, or it’s all hot and black and uncreamy. So when I buy my coffee milk, I am very careful to check the date on the carton. The 10% stuff is usually good for 6 to 8 weeks, and I usually go through it in 10 days, so it’s almost never a problem. Nonetheless, I always check the dates.

(I also have other rules, such as I never take the first one or the last one… the first one is half-exposed to the unrefrigerated air in the grocery store, and the last one is suspect by virtue of hiding at the back, so I always take one from the middle.)

Anyhow, so I recently stumbled onto a new conspiracy with these so-called best before dates. See, I brought home a carton of coffee milk, and put it in my fridge. No big deal. The following morning I took the carton out, and was surprised to find that the best before date said the milk was going to expire in a week. I know it said it was good for a month, when I bought it.

This got me thinking – obviously the date stamp had changed. I mean, the alternative explanation of someone sneaking in and replacing the cartons, is highly unlikely. My floors are very creaky, so I’d have noticed. So the date stamp had changed… ┬ábut how?

Well, they definately have those magic inks… you know, like kids toys that change colour when you dip them in cold water, or hot water? Obviously they can’t use thermally-sensitive inks on milk cartons because the cartons should be refrigerated all the time. But still, if they have magic inks that are thermally reactive, then why not other kinds?

What’s the difference between a refrigerator at home, and the refrigerated section of the grocery store? Lights!

The grocery store is all well-lit. But the little light in your home fridge goes off when you close the door. Leave it closed overnight…a good 8 or 10 hours of darkness, and the light-sensitive ink changes, and the best-before date goes from next month, to next week.

Presto! You need to buy new milk in a week, instead of next month. It’s so obvious.

This collusion between the dairy farms and the fridge manufacturers has probably been going on since they invented the little light in the fridge door. I mean, why else do they go to so much work of adding a switch and stuff, so the wee light goes off when the door closes? You could put an LED light in there, leave it on for 100,000 hours, and it’d use less power and cost less than the traditional bulb and switch. But then, the best before dates wouldn’t be able to change when the door was closed.

See? I’m onto them. I know what’s going on.

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