It’s Official: “Expired Food” Will be Sold in Greek Supermarkets

Posted by in Economy

The decline in the living standards of Greeks and in the morals of politicians is without previous example. With  a decision by the Ministry of  of Development, food producers will fill their pockets with gold, while low incomers will have the chance to continue living on .. expired food. Proving its total inability to lower the prices for basic food and other basic items, Greek Minister of Development Costis Chatzidakis introduced a law according to which expired food will be available to supermarket and retail shops shelves for up to 1/3 of the initial price.

With the new rules for handling/marketing products and services introduced by the Ministry of Development the availability of  food with expired “last date of minimum durability” is legal in special supermarket racks and provided that the food will not belong to the category of those that perish. The disposal will be permitted only in retail but will be prohibited in restaurants and other catering outlets.

These expired food items will be sold clearly separated from other food items and with a sign in capital letters reading

“Food of limited Sustainability” (“Τρόφιμα Περασμένης Διατηρησιμότητας“). 

This provision makes the seller responsible for these products and for the good conditions of these items, that will have to be sold at lower prices.  Accountable to the law is also anyone who is attempting to change in any way the expiry date of the products.

The time for which an expired  product will be sold will depend on following criteria:

  • Up to one week for products with expired date indicated by day and month.
  • Up to one month for products with expired date indicated by month and year.
  • Up to three months for products with expired date indicated by year. 

       (source: Capital.gr)

Food Safety, Quality and Expiry Dates

There are all these warnings/guides USE BY… and  BEST BEFORE… The first refers to food safety the second to food quality. Safety and quality can suffer after the expire date.

I surfed through internet to see if selling food out of date is legal or illegal. The Food Regulations in USA seem to be more relaxed, but more severe in the UK. I also checked the new EU regulation but I would have to be reading for a week among regulations and modifications to come through.

According to European Union Food Regulations for Consumers: Food labelling – A wealth of information for consumers

Ensuring food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers, industry and consumers. Food labelling is one way in which consumers can get knowledge about the food they consider buying. Correctly following the information provided on food labels (such as expiry dates, handling instructions and allergy warnings) can help consumers prevent unnecessary food-borne illness and allergic reactions.
Expiry dates

In the European Union (EU), an intricate set of legislation and standards has been developed and implemented to ensure safety throughout the entire food chain. Perishable foods, judged from a microbiological point of view (such as cooked meat products, prepared foods and salads), display a ‘use by’ date on the package and should not be eaten after this date, as this could present a health risk. In addition, many foods display a ‘best before’ date, which gives an indication of the “minimum durability”, or the period during which the food retains its specific properties when properly stored. In other words, a product whose “best before” date has expired may still be safe to eat, but the manufacturer no longer guarantees the sensory properties of the product (e.g. taste, smell, appearance etc).

 It should be borne in mind though that food can be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella without an odour or a change in product appearance (EUFIC)

The European Parliament passed a January 2012 resolution, “How to avoid food wastage: strategies for a more efficient food chain in the EU” which in addition to measures to improve packaging, discussed a way to utilize products that go to waste at the retail level. The resolution proposed taking foods that are damaged or close to their expiration dates and selling them at discounted prices, to make them more accessible to people in need. They also discussed incentives for hospitality and catering businesses to buy local produce and donate leftover food to food banks free-of-charge.(nurishing the planet)

KTG understands that according to EU regulations foods can be sold if they’re close to their expiration dates, but not after they’re expired.

The EU Parliament calls among others:

The Commission and the Member States, therefore, to clarify the meaning of the date labels (‘best before’, ‘expiry date’ and ‘use by’) in order to reduce consumers’ uncertainty regarding food edibility and to disseminate accurate information to the public, notably the understanding that the minimum durability ‘best before’ date is related to quality, while the ‘use by’ date is related to safety.

Of course, one can buy cheap expired pasta and go home to find it’s total yucks! But who would care, if one has limited resources and a number of mouths to feed. As for safety? Your complains directly to the Minister and the EU for allowing this to happen.

UPDATE Oct 14,2012:

Several Greek consumers organizations raised serious objections to the Ministry’s decision, stressing the food quality and possible harms for consumers.

 Greek Food Safety Organisation (EFET) spoke of insufficient control mechanisms and ‘grey zones’ in the regulation, while Greek consumers will be divided in two categories. EFET president Yiannis Michas spoke of the danger that ‘sneaky food suppliers could bring in the market questionable food items.”

Deputy Development Minister Skordas defended the decision saying that it is been applied also in the UK.

According to Ministry’s explanations food items like biscuits, pulses, pasta, tin cans  labelled as “BEST USE before…”will be allowed to be sold after expiration day, but no ‘vulnerable food items’ like yogurt or meat.

The decision will be implemented as of October 15th 2012.

UPDATE October 16, 2012:

In addition to expired food, Development Ministry decided to introduce also ‘expired milkto the millions of delighted Greek consumers.

 

International Egg Day today, and I think I’m governed by a giant egg…

PS Rumors that expired utility bills will be also cheaper are not confirmed.

 See also: 19 Reasons why Foods & other basic needs Prices remain high in Greece when incomes plummet,  Consumer Prices 6.8% Increases, and Multinationals Sell Their Goods 90% Higher in Greece than elsewhere in EU.