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

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I surfed through internet to see if selling food out of date is legal or illegal.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.

 

 

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24 comments

  1. Use before:

    Base salary/month – Date
    1.000€ – 20/10/12
    500€ – 20/12/12
    200€ – 20/5/13
    OAED Card – 20/11/13
    No income – If it doesn’t move, it can be eaten.

  2. So, they really are trying to kill us off… one by one, child by child…

    On another note, people who have electronic cigs are wondering if there will be a electronic purse… you plug in at night and it fills with money by morning… that will help pay expired utility bills

  3. The expiry dates on food are mostly nonsense anyway, mandated by jobsworths in Brussels. When I was a kid, you would use your eyes and your nose to decide if food was past its best. Nowadays, if it’s one day over the date printed on the packet, it gets binned. It is truly a criminal waste of perfectly good food.

    Personally, I ignore sell-by dates on stuff in my fridge or cupboard. If it looks ok and it smells ok, it gets eaten, even if it’s months past the date printed on the pack.

    I think this new ruling is actually a very sensible idea, particularly as so many people here are suffering badly from the effects of the recession. The chance to buy food at a knockdown price can only be a good thing. Sell-by dates are irrelevant when you’re hungry.

  4. keeptalkinggreece

    lol electronic purse is great idea, even if expired.

  5. keeptalkinggreece

    there is a difference between expired in your cupboard/fridge(bought sometime in the past, proper storage) and at supermarket. You gave your money when the food was fresh and consumable. Just think of all the multinationals sending their expired foods to Greece. lol

    when you were a child probably you would buy open food, th emilkman would knock every day at your door. with expired milk? I doubt.
    Nowadays conditions are different. YOu can’t open the packages in supermarket and check the quality or smell and say, no thanks I won’t buy.

  6. Cleveland Natives

    In the USA, there is a large percentage of us who eat expired food and we do just fine. In Greece, people get a little paranoid but I have to agree with Nisakimin above. The expiration date is more of a “Best by date” anyways. This is the USA website that I live by in deciding what to toss and what to keep.

    http://www.stilltasty.com/

    It’s funny because I usually scratch out the expiration dates otherwise my wife and mother-in law (Greeks) would trash half our products and what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

    As I said, if it’s good enough for the number one economy in the World (USA), I think Greeks will survive eating expired foods.. It will build character!!!

  7. keeptalkinggreece

    they will build expired character!

  8. Cleveland Natives

    Now, that’s funny KTG, but all I’m saying is that for the years I’ve been in Greece, most of my Greek family and friends snub their nose at me for eating the expired products and even say, “You can afford to buy fresh, etc” and I gave up years ago trying to explain common sense and logic to Greeks. Once I even had read that President Bush had eaten expired products as a college student and tried to say to my Greek friends that if the Planitarxeis (World leader) ate expired products, what are you trying to say you’re better than him??? Come on, quit being so snobby and eat my expired Coron flakes!!! (LOL)

  9. keeptalkinggreece

    did you see what happened to Bush after eating expired food?

  10. I’m an American living in Greece, Greeks tend to be more prudent on shopping, but for throwing things out, they check it out before tossing. Growing up, we wasted soo much food. We bought bulk, as to where people here tend to go more often to the market or have gardens. Also the great USA isn’t something to look up to about standards in the food arena. They not only sell an abundance of GMOs, processed foods, hormones and pesticides, but now they are finding ways of changing or even outright denying these items are not GMO free, or whatever. Even Whole Foods has been shown that they are selling GMO foods and not only denying it, but lying about it. My greek husband told me that over ten years ago, just by looking at the produce! Not all 100%, but it is there and even in the vitamins.
    This is horrible, people can’t afford hardly anything now in Greece and even the tainted food that could kill them or even make them sick to try to get some doctors visit and paying for that…. This to a country that eats fresh and cooks fresh, now are not only being forced to processed, GMO foods, because of their cheapness, now buying expired food praying over hoping it will nourish them and their children instead of demolishing them.

  11. Cleveland Natives

    Yep, he became Planetarxeis… Yee haw!

  12. Anyway, I think it will be positive in practice. It is well known, and here it is the proof, that the expiration date in food is widely manipulated in order to constrain peopole throw away the food that is expired and make people to increease their consume. This law will promote peole just to wait until the food expires and buy it. Result: Companies will lose 2/3 of the beneffits and people will pay just 1/3 of the price for food which is actually in good condition.

  13. I agree with Nisakiman – take note that it has written ‘SELL’ by date not ‘eat’ by date. I usually will continue to eat food up to 2 or more weeks after the sell by date expires if it looks and smells ok. Common sense should prevail and we can now stop so much wastage. Obviously some limit must be maintained with certain delicate foods but on the whole it’s a good move.

  14. In the U.S. and Canada, we throw out 40% of our food. It translates to tens of billions of dollars in Canada a year and over 100 billion dollars a year in the U.S. I am sometimes guilty of it too, but have been trying to cut down since reading these stats a few weeks ago (I better finish off my yougurt that was best before today and the two peaches that will rot in another day or two, the box of raspberries in the fridge I am throwing out for they have been there a month and have not rotted at all as natural ones should). While there may be a point of some food still being ok after the expiry date, it isn’t right that there is one set of rules for Greece and another for the rest of the union if it is indeed a union.

  15. And Santa exists too…
    Isn’t it just funny. Years ago the Best before date was put on for our protection. At a cost of course. Now, we are actually being told that this was really not very necessary, and the as the supermarkets and food processors are obviously feeling the pinch because of people growing their own stuff more and more, it suddenly isn’t all that important anymore. Just wondering when it will suddenly not be necessary any longer to put on the label what it actually is they are trying to sell you as “food”…
    One thing you can be very sure off is that the companies will not lose on this what so ever. Another comment elsewhere tells you about the mark-up these guys put on products. It is scandalous. Then, there is also the other side of the coin, the manipulation of food to “extend” it’s shelf life by x-amount through the addition of lots of often dangerous chemicals. When I say dangerous, I don’t mean stuff that will kill you, although. If the concept of “long-term killing” could be make a legal concept, a lot of food-processors would be in trouble. Lots of these chemicals and manipulations are responsible for such niceties as obesity, allergies, brittle bones, etc. Costing not just the consumer in quality of life, but society in general a fortune in health care etc.
    These products have been tested to the limit, and the limit is the “sell by” date, that is the danger. Nobody really knows, or cares by the looks of things, what these chemicals will do to you in the long term. There is ample evidence of the damage they will do when used within “the rules”. Now that the flood gates have been opened, expect a serious spike in food poisonings, obesity cases, skin disorders etc.

  16. Depending on the product, it will either say ” Sell By” (for a period of a week or less if memory serves me well), otherwise it will say “Best Before”.
    Both phrases have nothing to do with you, the consumer! All they are is a disclaimer, or legal protection for the seller/ manufacturer to leave them of the hook if somebody uses the stuff after that date. Nothing more, nothing less. They cover their backsides, and the marketing machine kicks in to make you believe it’s “for your own good”.

    Obviously some limit must be maintained

    If you were talking proper food, that limit would be decided on by a good sense of smell and taste. But with all the shit they add to “food”, colourants, taste enhancers, growth inhibitors, etc, you simply cannot rely on your inbuilt “best before” system any longer. Which is why this system was put in place in the first place.
    Why not go back to growing your, honest, proper food instead of the industrialized version of “food”, including all the packaging, chemicals and other niceties that come with it?

  17. … all very well but with no money to pay our DEH bills there will be no point in trying to charge an electronic purse !! And add to that the possibility there will no longer be any electricity full stop !!!

  18. solar powered purse?