Your Community readers debate 'best before' dates

Categories: Community, Health

The latest story from the Go Public investigative team got the CBC Community taking about food, grocery stores and what's safe to eat.

In the comments of our story on Wal-Mart and other retailers selling canned fish after its "best before" date, we got a view from those who work in the grocery stores.

  • "I work for a grocery store and one of my jobs is pulling outdated product from the shelf. The problem, in my store, is that we're given 2 hours for whichever section is in question. So, if I'm checking, say cold and hot cereals, that's a 90-foot section, and I can tell you two hours isn't enough time to check everything," said cayennesea.

  • "I used to work in a grocery store stocking shelves, rotating product. Quite frankly many producers of food put codes on their packaging that are really hard to understand, put on hard to find places, very small print. Sometimes the code was smudged or often not there at all. Laws need to made and enforced when it comes to our food," said proudeastener.

Some echoed that call for more government regulation.

  • "A simple way to solve this problem and protect the Canadian consumer would be for the government to pass laws that force clear and readable best before dates and stiff fines for selling this stuff after those dates. While they are at it, companies should also be forced to identify the country where the product was produced in and not just the country where it was packaged," said cottage life.

While others said the consumer bears some responsibility.

  • "You have to take a little responsibility for yourself, too. If you pick it up and read the date and it's a year old, why would you eat it?" said DK2DK2.

  • "Actually, in the case of canned food, I would certainly eat it. Canned food lasts perfectly well for years and just because its 'best before date' is past, it does not mean it is dangerous to eat. However, having said that, it should not be on the shelves if this date is past," replied Squirly Girl.

That debate about "best before" and "expiration" dates on food took place in the comments, as well. It has been a huge issue in the U.K., where politicians recently suggested scrapping best before dates in an effort to cut down on unnecessary food waste.

  •  "'Best before' and 'expiration' mean two different things. It is unlikely a good batch of food, that was both canned and stored properly, would have gone bad and made someone ill a year after the best before. If it did, it would be more likely that it had more to do with the product or the soundness of the can," said Viajante.

  • "A best-before date does not mean canned fish will go bad after that date. Bacteria cannot enter the can. Going past the best-before date is not a health hazard. It makes no sense that someone could get sick for that reason," said WalksLikeADuck.

  • "'Best before date' does not mean dangerous after. It is not the same as an expiry date. Most canned goods are safe to eat for many years if properly stored. The things to watch out for are any signs of bulging, dents, or rust. This article does mention these basic facts in its quotes from the experts, but the overall tone is still needlessly alarmist," said Steve_in_Ontario.

Thank you for all your comments.

Tags: Canada, Community, food, Health

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