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This is all most fun

A charity that campaigns against food waste may face prosecution after a trading standards inspection found produce that was past its use-by date at one of its warehouses.

Note the difference between “best before” and “use by”.

“In relation to the relevant legal provisions, I can confirm the supply of food marked with a ‘use-by’ date after the date marked on the pack is an offence. It is however not an offence to supply foods marked with a best before date beyond the date marked on pack.”

Quite so. The defence case being:

“Our instincts provide us with enough to be able to tell if food is off or not,” said Smith. “We want to show that with our skills and knowledge – as chefs and people who have worked in the food industry for a long time – that we can provide this food to anybody and make it safe for consumption.”

So, why not just abolish the whole idea of use by dates and rely upon human instinct? After all, those who get it wrong will pass out of the gene pool soon enough.

20 thoughts on “This is all most fun”

  1. Like most regulations supposedly there to protect you but which really are there to keep bureaucracies plump, make them optional and let the free market decide which ones the public wants and will pay for.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Presumably they think they can do it because they are nice sensitive intelligent people. But the proles are idiots and so they need someone to protect them.

  3. ““We’ve been doing this for three and a half years and we’ve fed just over a million people worldwide,” said Smith. “They could have stopped us a long time ago and they didn’t. If they thought it was dangerous they wouldn’t have allowed us to continue trading.””

    Replace ‘fed’ with ‘killed’, ‘Smith’ with ‘Jihadi’, and ‘trading’ with ‘murdering’ and you could almost be reading about the terrorism cases, couldn’t you?

  4. Bloke in Wiltshire

    “A peaceful protest, involving a picnic of waste food, is planned for the day of Smith’s hearing, though a date has not yet been set. The charity has received messages of support from across the food industry, including the TGI Fridays restaurant chain. “They hope we win the case because it will save the industry millions of pounds because we’re throwing so much food away,” he said.”

    Absolutely fucking not. The law should not arbitrarily judge based on whether you’re a nice person or not. This is the law, and you broke it. If it’s bad to give people food past a use-by date, it’s bad to give people food past a use-by date. Doesn’t matter if you’re a bunch of capitalists or nice charity types.

  5. I always say, if it isn’t “fizzy” “furry” or smelly, bring it on. Far too much food is thrown due to stupid dates on packs. Anyone with an iota of sense can tell if food is “off”

  6. Worth pointing out, if you abolish UBD & BBD you’ll be making that decision whether to eat it after you’ve paid for it in the shop.
    Also known as the patelerie experience.

  7. > if it isn’t “fizzy” “furry” or smelly, bring it on.

    No mature cheese for you then?

    Seriously though, as a person who buys and eats food, I want some kind of guarantee that the food I buy is safe to eat. Without the state, we’d have to rely on brand names, kitemarks, retailers’ reputation, etc.. That’s a lot of things to have to check every day. Having the state regulate it seems more efficient to me.

  8. I’ve worked in the food industry for quite a while, including in microbiological testing, and I’ve only met one person who could (or at least claimed to be able to) smell salmonella and listeria. I know I can’t. He couldn’t smell E Coli or C Botulinum at all.

    I’m always impressed by people who can do this.

  9. People like fascism; they want the government to look out for them. Saves them the trouble. Government likes the power. Everybody’s happy. Except the guy who has to get his lasagna tested so he can put Nutrition Facts on the packaging. The only Nutrition Fact you need to know: lasagna.

    Then you get the secondary effect: people think people are too stupid to take care of themselves (they must be, coz government is doing all this stupid shht for them), so government must get into everything. Government likes the power.

  10. @Tim W

    [1]why not just abolish the whole idea of use by dates and rely upon human instinct? [2]After all, those who get it wrong will pass out of the gene pool soon enough.

    1. Agree
    2. Good

    In this household much food past its “use by” is eaten. Look, sniff, taste, touch.

    Zero food poisoning ever.*

    Oldest was a Mattesons smoked sausage 19 months past “use by” date – found at back of fridge.

    *food poisoning has occurred from airline, hotel & restaurant food.

  11. The price of adding ‘Use By’ dates to food items is negligible, the benefits are life (and productivity) enhancing.

    Food Waste (food that is not eaten) is not wasted, it is an input into a reclamation system that would not be viable if those inputs were not ‘free’.
    (In 2009, enough electricity was generated through the decomposition of organic waste to supply all the households in Leeds.)

    This ‘Smith’ is no better than a common terrorist, by removing this ‘Food Waste’ from the reclamation supply he is damaging an almost £billion UK industry (force feed him John West salmon until he’s (very) sick).

  12. What will happen if the dates are taken off the packs, is that the supermarkets will not take any chances. They will throw food away when they even suspect it might be past its best.

    They will not risk consumers blaming them for selling off food.

    The wastage will increase.

    Best before is what is needed. A warning, not an instruction.

    You guys might buy lasagna with an uncertain age, but I won’t buy stuff without some indication how old it is. Sure, I’ll notice it is off when I get it home, but I’ve still wasted my money and still have no dinner.

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve had serious food poisoning in India (from a 5* hotel) and never again. I’ll live with best before as others have said, but not no warnings at all.

    When I first met Mrs BiND she was teaching in a BFES school in Germany. I was invited round to her flat which she shared with another teacher. They served my dinner and both sat watching while I ate – weird I thought – but as soon as I’d had my second mouthful they both started eating. She admitted later that they’d used up all their expired food and were waiting for my reaction before getting stuck in. And I still married her and here we are nearly 36 years after that event.

  14. False dichotomy. The alternative to government mandated use-by dates is NOT food poisoning/death.

    Sellers of food must sell food fit for consumption. Storage/delayed consumption is the purchasers’ responsibility, not the sellers’.

    I buy deli items that have only “sold on” date. It’s up to me to decide if it’s too old to eat.

  15. Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s put “use by” dates a couple of days in the future on anything bought from their delicatessen counters, including hard cheeses that should endure into the next decade.

    This is another of those stupid ratchets, where the company is willing to get its customers to waste Parmesan rather than to program its tills sensibly.

  16. Dear Mr Worstall

    I guess we’d all be dead by now if government hadn’t forced evil capitalist food companies to put ‘use by’ dates on foods since the 19th century. Er, it was the 19th century, wasn’t it? I vaguely remember growing up when there were no such things as ‘use by’ or ‘best before’.

    Food businesses really don’t like to poison their customers, so they don’t.

    As for catching something dodgy in a 5* foreign hotel, that often comes from poor personal hygiene – something you can get away with at home, you can’t when you’re up against a local mutant of a common bug. Born and bred in Africa instilled the ‘wash your hands before touching food’ or even sticking fingers in your mouth, though Mum did say she’d hate to tell us what we put in our mouths when we were very young. I used to claim it was hyena poo, but there weren’t any in that part of Africa.

    If government repealed the legislation requiring dates of any flavour, I doubt they will disappear – they are too useful, if only to encourage people to chuck away edible food and buy some more edible food. Somehow I can’t see government banning dates, but you can never be certain that government won’t get that stupid.


  17. @Tim Worstall

    Morrisons Mature Cheddar (350g) – Back of pack:

    Keep refrigerated.
    Once opened consume within five days.
    Do not exceed best before date.

    Also on label: “Contains 12 portions.”

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