Soft drink use by dating

Previously, Pepsi had printed use-by dates on can bottoms, he said, but in a code "no one beyond us could figure out." Now the information will appear in readable form: "Aug 01 94," for instance.

"For best taste," a so-called freshness flag reads on sides of the new Diet Pepsi cans, "drink by date on bottom of can." That last phrase appears inside a blue arrow, which helpfully points downward for those unable to locate the bottom of a can.

"There's one extreme case I heard of a 7-Eleven in the Mojave Desert," said Michael Jacobson, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Commercialism, another Washington-based activist organization, "so it might be useful to consumers to have freshness dating on diet drinks." The New York State Consumer Protection Board, in a statement yesterday, praised Pepsi for responding to its requests that go back to July 1992 for freshness dating on diet sodas. Jacobson expressed concern over whether "fresh might imply a healthfulness analogous to dairy products or fresh vegetables." The Pepsi executives' efforts to make freshness a quality consumers will consider when choosing among soft drinks are an attempt to stir up what has been a flat market.

Growth in the $48 billion American soft drink industry has slowed during the 1990's.

Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an activist organization in Washington, sighed when asked about Pepsi's plans.

"Those guys on Madison Avenue are so smart," she said, adding: "It's not as if they're saying Pepsi is good for you.

For decades, marketers have managed to convince American consumers that they had problems they never knew were problems -- halitosis, body odor, coffee nerves, dishpan hands, even bad breath in dogs -- and then peddle them solutions.

Now the Pepsi-Cola Company seeks to add to that list a most unlikely problem, staleness in sodas. 2 soft-drink maker, will sell Diet Pepsi with freshness dates emblazoned on can bottoms, indicating the contents are best if used in 12 to 14 weeks.

This is if the soda has been stored properly at the time and remains damage free.

To prevent food borne illnesses it is best to dispose of any food or drink that has reached he limits of its shelf life, or shows signs of spoiling.

Even Pepsi executives acknowledge that until last year, when the company started testing freshness dating in five cities, shoppers had rarely displayed any interest in, much less concern over, the freshness of their soft drinks.

"I would assume 'I'm going to have a nice, fresh Diet Pepsi' is not part of the consumer vocabulary," Mr. "But consumer interest in dates, labels, freshness is exploding," he added.

Most cans and bottles of soda will come with a date printed on it and is called the “Best if Used By date.” These dates are the manufacture’s estimate on how long the product will remain at its peak quality.

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