Friday, November 14, 2014

from - The Wreck of the Salmonella Fitzgerald

...this seems excessive, no? This is from the Shop Rite in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Missed it by *that* much
We all know that expiration dates on many items are little more than educated guesses. I grew up in my family's small grocery store near Annapolis, and we often would eat the foods that were either nearing or were at their expiration date, generally with no ill effects. Sure, the dates on milk cartons are pretty accurate, and it's wise to avoid eating deli meats, breads, or prepared foods much past their sell-by date. But most frozen foods can last well past the date stamped on their packages, as long as they're stored correctly. Even now, seeing food a week or so past the sell-by date just doesn't bother me.
Which makes this dented and worn box of Steak-Umm's chicken steaks I found at the Shop Rite so ridiculous. Super market freezer doors open and close all the time, and that simple action changes the storage temperature. People often will put a refrigerated item in their cart and carry it around the store for an hour and then randomly plop it  in between the Oreos and the Chips Ahoy. How many times have you seen a shopper put back ice cream in something that wasn't a freezer? Seven additional months of who-knows how many random grabs and placed into how many carts, going through how many freeze/thaw cycles, not including how long it sat on the shelf before April 2014?
there were two boxes left...hmmm...
Now with extra salmonella if you use your bonus card!
That leads me to the sale price - the store had two boxes left, they had different items behind the chicken Steak-umms ready for purchase, AND they just happen to have a two for $7 sale?? Coincidence? Interesting... . I'd guess somebody in the store knew this box of Steak-umms was well-past the expiration date and either didn't care, or were told to ignore it and sell it anyway, clearing the shelf space at any cost rather than lose a couple of bucks. Given that this location is near a large senior citizen community, perhaps the buyer wouldn't be able to see the small print, or wouldn't have the taste buds to tell the difference.
Seeing this mangled box in the freezer reminds me to start paying attention to the sell-by dates again. Back when I was a kid, that meant counting the chocolate milk boxes that would expire in the next 24 hours, and figure out how many would be left over for me to drink. Now, it means to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous food.
No matter the reason or the excuse, this is bad grocery store managing. I wasn't giving the store the Anthony Melchiorri white-glove dust test from "Hotel Impossible;" I was looking for frozen vegetables I could keep at work. I'm totally ready to pitch "Grocery Impossible" where I fix horribly-run grocery stores. Food Lion can be my pilot episode. Maybe the whole first season.
Note : I moved the other box of chicken Steak-umms out of the way for the photos, and it had a "best if used by" date labeled comfortably in 2015. Having tried the Steak-umm chicken flavor, my personal recommendation for a "best if used by" date is "never."
- Ray

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