A principle of U.S. food law is that foods in U.S. commerce must be wholesome and fit for consumption. A "best by", "use by" or expiration date does not relieve a firm from this obligation. A product that is dangerous to consumers would be subject to potential action by FDA to remove it from commerce regardless of any date printed on a label.
But some interesting economics starts becoming apparent when packaged food products approach the last 1/3rd or 1/4th of their shelf life. For e.g.
- near-expiry food products being exported from developed countries to developing ones (where they still command a premium over local products). I've found entire shelves of imported food products just months away from expiry (out of a total shelf life of, say, 2 years)
- re-badging of expiry dates/lots by unscrupulous importers
- 2 for 1 offers in supermarkets to liquidate near-expiry stock
Many of the people living in the area dine on fast food because it is incredibly cheap. "Real" food a"can't compete at this price. However, maybe post sell by date foods can.
The challenge is likely to be one of marketing, as it won't be difficult for the fast food chains to label the newcomer as selling rotten food.
UK: many shops sell off food at half or third price when it hits sell-by. They put it in bins/special fridge areas and they have yellow 'BUY NOW' stickers on, and some products have a warning like 'use today'.
I know of cafes that give away their expired sandwiches on the day and hour of expiry. So when given away, it was fine.
I had even thought it would be a great program for a charity register homes that are willing to give away soon-to-go-bad food. Then have volunteers stop by these homes on a predetermined schedule (once a week or so) to stop by and collect anything that the home might want to donate.
If you think it's crazy, I'm gonna guess your broke college-kid days (if you had them) are long behind you. :)
It's true that there have been cases where someone is successfully sued in this manner; the source of the danger (which could be food or a uncovered hole in the ground that someone falls into) is known as an 'attractive nuisance', ie something dangerous that is also irresistible. However, that's usually only successful in cases where children or animals are drawn towards the attractive nuisance because they lack better judgment. It would be hard for an adult to persuade a jury that he couldn't anticipate the risks of eating food from a garbage can.
IANAL, didn't do a review of AN cases, TINLA.
In their own words: "[Freegans] embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed."
I eventually realized that for perishable goods, they put the new stuff in the back of the shelves, so now I just head for the back of the shelf when I need to buy perishables there. This sucks for me, since buying at TJs used to be a stress-free experience, and now I check the 'use-by' dates on everything.
I actually flirted with shopping at Walmart (the one on San Antonio), but even though the prices are lower, the checkout lines are crazy at peak times, which is when I shop.
I also checked out Safeway, but they do a pricing technique that I call "Price Warfare". They randomly advertise products on heavy discount, and get you to incorporate those products as defaults in your shopping habits, then they switch their discounts to other products. This means that I've wound up paying $7 for basic icecream (which usually costs around $3:50). They also like to prominently display expensive items and hide their cheaper substitutes. This is most visible in their produce section - if you go in looking for grapes and without your senses about you, you'll pick up organic grapes by default. It also means that shopping at Safeway is mentally exhausting, since I've got to recalculate the 'best' prices on everything I buy every time I go there - so I avoid it now. <end rant>
I just wanted to mention that this is a standard practice called rotation. After all, putting new product in front would result in wastage of the older product. Products are supposed to be culled on their sell-by (not expiration) date, and it's unfortunate that you got some bad groceries, but they didn't do anything unusual or shady.
Similarly, Safeway's practices are fairly standard amongst grocery stores, though it's a little annoying. Best to follow the sale circulars and keep your wits about you.
The Safeway experience is agonizing, though I'm sure it must be profitable for them at least in the short term. I just avoid them now, even though they have things I just can't find at TJs.
I don't consume a lot of milk, and I was getting tired of buying a half-gallon and having go bad two weeks later after I had only consumed 1/4 of it.
Lactose-free milk stay good for a long-time. Most of the time when I check, the best-before date is at least 6 weeks into the future. I've never had the milk go bad even if I've had it for 8 weeks. I'm not lactose intolerant BTW.
The only drawback is that the milk definitely tastes sweeter than regular milk. I'm used to it by now, but I'm sure some people would find it disagreeable.
I'm not sure why it lasts so long, even though there is no lactose in it, there is plenty of other sugars in it. Lactose-free milk is made by using enzymes to split the lactose into galactose and glucose. It tastes sweeter because both of the sugars have a higher perceived sweetness than lactose on a weight basis.
No need to pay extra for the lactose-free variant if you don't really need it and the plain UHT-treated milk is cheaper :)
Brief investigation showed that there was difference in the initial contamination of the two halves and the results observed.
Modern kitchen and fridge are fairly clean places unless you are a movie bachelor. So opening a milk bottle and pouring a glass won't contaminate too much. And at 4 degrees there is not much breeding activity in bacteria anyway.
Was kind of annoying actually; the Mythbusters got so pissed off that their experiment appeared to show pyramids working that they set up their next test in such a way it'd give the same result regardless of whether pyramids or contamination had caused one apple to rot faster before, then held it up as proof pyramids were bunk. While it's really unlikely pyramids can magically preserve food, they should still have been honest and fair in their testing.
I mostly shop at a handful of local stores, one in business for around 100 years, the other around 40 now. The younger of the two is more "hippy" (for lack of a better term) and has had many expired products on the shelf I've had to point out/return (when I wasn't paying attention). The older, not so much. I don't shop at the local Safeway -- a wholly different issue.
A lot of stores go with the FIFO approach, but some staff don't necessarily pay attention. In other cases, the vendor rents space and is responsible for stocking their own shelves...this happened to me recently...juice 2 weeks past due (didn't check when purchased, returned an hour later) -- store honored the return, but mentioned it was the vendor's responsibility.
(It's perfectly fine for the store to rely on the vendor to stock their products, it's silly for the store to try to communicate to a customer that they aren't still responsible...)
Um, this has NOTHING to do with Trader Joe's! Is it too much to even read the title? Never mind the actual article?
It's about the fact that food often DOES go bad by the sell-by date, and that Trader Joe - where this guy got his experience - has changed their policies to aggressively push older, effectively near-expired goods on customers. That's what I hate, and it's pretty relevant.
And his idea of using old food has nothing to do with their policies.
You are combining two unrelated things.
This is standard practice at grocery stores to put freshest food at the back and soonest to expire in the front. No reason to hate on TJ's on that point.
I actually prefer some trader joe's branded food to the alternatives, but it isn't worth it to go there. Food from other stores simply lasts longer, which is essential when you are buying for just yourself.
Trader Joe's obviously has had a significant change of policy recently to reduce losses to perishables, and it's foisting those losses on customers. I hate it.
I can't imagine this is a new practice at Trader Joe's, it's an industry standard, and common sense quite frankly.
I'm very interested in what you consider proper practice should be with perishable foods (or what you think they used to do)? It almost sounds like you think they used to throw all perishables away that didn't sell on the first day and restock everything fresh nightly.
Why wouldn't you trust it? Do you not trust grocery stores in general?
Take something they rightfully have to give away and instead make profit from it.
I already see grocers giving out tons of food to the local food bank, if they can convince governments to let them profit from it, that is one more path against poverty taken away by corporate entities.
Another way to eliminate waste would be to price the product lower?
If a regional grocery throws away tons of bananas each week, why not make the bananas half the price and run out of bananas each week?
The poor/needy in the US are eating fast food more and more, as they can't afford groceries, with high costs for meat, vegetables and milk all rising. I'm excited to see how this program is launched and copied.
Fast food is far more expensive than groceries. I haven't eaten at a fast food place (or any other restaurant for that matter) in a couple of decades.