Expired food

Joe MacGillivray uses the Antigonish food bank. He recently received this can of Chunky soup that expired in 2008. (CBC)

As Nova Scotia food banks stock up in preparation for the holidays, they say it's helpful for donors to double check the expiry dates on items they bring in.

Big donations from companies have clearly marked expiry dates on boxes. But when donations are brought in by individuals or food drives, old food can sometimes slip through.

Volunteers can’t inspect every item, says Ted Cogan, with the Antigonish Community Food Bank. Sometimes the food is from a family member who has died.

"When they pass away, a daughter or a son comes home, cleans it all out, brings it in, and says, 'Do you mind taking this, I'm just going to give it to you, thank you,'" he said.

Joe MacGillivray uses the Antigonish food bank and was recently given a can of Chunky soup with an expiry date of Sept. 12, 2008.

"As soon as I opened the lid on it, I could smell it," he said.

MacGillivray is on disability and relies on the food bank to supplement his meals.

Cogan said he doesn't often hear complaints, and clients are free to exchange expired food.

That said, just because an item’s expiry date has passed doesn’t mean it’s not good. Cogan said the food bank follows national guidelines that say food can be used for another year or so if it's not spoiled.

It’s also important for consumers not to confuse expiry dates with the date an item was produced.