Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Watch Out For Those Specials

I wanted to do some pizza flavor experimentation the other day and needed to buy Canadian bacon from my local chain grocer. I found only one brand of Canadian bacon available and every package had a $1 "manager's special" coupon redeemable at the check-out. While I was disappointed that I only had one brand to choose from, I was happy that there was a coupon attached.

But I knew there was a catch, and I knew from past experience, this grocer (as all the others) only puts that coupon on products about to expire. Figuring I had only a day or two to use the Canadian bacon, I searched for the expiration date.

I couldn't find it.

And I immediately knew what they had done.

I peeled back the coupon and found the date underneath. This particular package of Canadian bacon had a "Sell By Date" of three days before. So I checked the next package behind it, same thing, and then the next one, same thing.

At this point I decided to call this to the attention of the meat department. I walked up to the counter and was greeted quite warmly. I said, "Do you have any Canadian bacon -- "


"Sure over here," he interrupted as he rounded the counter.

" -- that hasn't expired."

"What?" He turned and looked at me like he had never heard anything so crazy in his entire life. "That can't be right."

I explained to him what I'd done. He then looked through what I showed him and confirmed. Profuse apologies followed and he ran off to the back room to find some that weren't. After only a few moments he came back out with a different brand that didn't expire for a couple of months. I had no idea if this brand cost more or less and he wasn't sure on its price. I needed this ingredient and I didn't have time to drive to a different grocer, so I accepted this alternative.

Apologizing again and expressing his embarrassment of the situation, he vowed to get that taken care of right away.  Later, before checking out, I swung back by to check up on his promise. Needless to say, nothing had been done.

Now, because it was a "Sell By" date and not an actual expiration date, there's a good probability that no one who bought and ate that Canadian bacon got sick, but the fact that the grocer was deceptive serves as a good reminder. Maybe I'm naive, but maybe if enough people point out these things, grocery retailers will at least be a little more honest.

Maybe.

Just a little story to remind you as a consumer, "Caveat Emptor" - Buyer Beware.

Until Next Time...
Here's a short video on how to understand food expiration dates.

Emptorly Yours,
Michael