Thursday, February 16, 2017

How long has that food been sitting on the store shelf?

I read with some amusement that there were changes being planned with respect to the sell-by dates on food items.  The changes are being done to allow people to understand it's safe to eat stale food; i.e. don't discard something just because it's past the sell-by date.   Is this a sign of society advancing?

Why aren't manufacturers required to put the date packed on such items?  That would give the consumer immediate information about how long the food has been sitting around.  The practice of putting the date packed is actually quite common in India and it's disappointing that it is not used in the US.

Some products do actually have the packed date encoded, e.g. Manna bread, and it is not uncommon to find product sitting in the frozen section for 9+ months.  I don't care if that's within what the company considers acceptable, it just seems too long.  With all the technology for supply chain management, there should not be a need to have food sitting on shelves that long.

And then I've come across some products sold in the frozen section that have neither a packed date nor a sell-by date, e.g. Berlin Bakery bread.  This one is scary because now we have no idea how long the product has been sitting in freezers at the distributor and then the store.

Some products go above and beyond give you even more information.  Bariani olive oil, for instance, encodes the harvest date and packed date.

I typically pay attention to these dates when buying food products.  Several times I have come across products on the store shelf that are past their use-by date, so even though store staff are supposed to be checking for this kind of stuff, they probably don't.  In this day and age with smart everything, there should be some way to alert store staff that they have stale stuff sitting on their shelves.

The lack of availability of a sell-by date on items sold in bulk bins usually keeps me away from those.

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