Don't Worry, This Kool Aid Doesn't Expire Until 01 Feb 11 02 11:48 CH

Chad, who sent this in, says he tried to decipher this Kool Aid‘s expiration date using the cheat sheet we posted last December, but nothing on this container matches the code format on the sheet. It can’t be that hard to print an unambiguous human readable expiration date on a product. Who else needs to read the date, other than a human? Why should the average consumer have to worry about deciphering a date? We thought we’d all pretty much agreed on some basic rules for how to keep track of the days.

We checked out the Kraftfoods.com site to see if they could offer any help, and it looks like just the first part of the code is relevant—which still doesn’t explain why they’d junk up a perfectly clear date with other stuff that the consumer doesn’t need to know.

The Best By Date will appear as follows:

01FEB09

01 = Day of Month
FEB = Month
09 = Year of Expiration

We also emailed Kraft last week to ask them what the rest of the code means, and why it’s included on the same line as the best by date. They didn’t respond, probably because we didn’t take the time to encode our query in robot language.

Update: Bridget at Kraft has emailed us the following response:

The code information in your email mistakenly showed “01 FEB 11 02 11:48 CH” when what’s really on the canister (and in the photo on your website) is “01 FEB 11 D2 11:48 CH”.

You’re correct that the first seven characters are the “best used by” date of February 1, 2011. The next two characters represent the manufacturing site and line on which the product was produced; next is the exact time it came off the line; and, finally, the flavor (cherry). While I understand this information may be of little or no interest to our consumers, it’s critically important to us at Kraft Foods to know exactly when and where our products are produced.