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Is it illegal to sell out of date food?
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# 1
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EltonJohnFan
Old 30-12-2010, 7:14 PM
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Post Is it illegal to sell out of date food?

Good evening everyone,

I'm been trying to find some information on whether it's illegal for a shop to sell out of date food because I've become aware that the local "Spar" in my community has a range of foodstuff that, in my opinion shouldn't be on sale because there are one or two items that are completely out of date and this has actually left me quite concerned. Whilst I was browsing through the shelfs for a few things today I noticed that the shop was selling chocolate chip muffins with a "best before date" of 19/12/2010 and this immediately caught my attention and so I then checked the bread and this wasn't so bad but was still out of date by a day or two. I also picked up a few packets of crisps and these again were out of date by a month or so but the very worst item was the Birds Eye Spaghetti Bolognese meal that I didn't actually check until I got home and was ready to put it in the oven but this item had a best before date of the 04/2010... surely this isn't right? I understand it's frozen food but even then I'd be wary of consuming something that's out of date by so much time. I wouldn't want to cause problems over nothing and I'll simply avoid this store in future but others might not be as lucky as myself and I feel compelled to bring this matter to the attention of the proper person who might be able to do something about this matter. When I took back the Spaghetti Bolognese meal the man merely shrugged his shoulders and said how did he know I'd bought it from there and that it could have been from any other shop, that he didn't sell out of date food. Take care everyone

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# 2
mugwump
Old 30-12-2010, 7:34 PM
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Best Before is only a guide with no legal standing under the various food laws. It does what it says on the can and just warns you that the flavour/texture etc MIGHT degrade after this date. The food is still edible.

See the Food Standards site
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# 3
dyldwarf
Old 30-12-2010, 7:34 PM
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i think shops can get fined for selling out of date food
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# 4
dickieg
Old 30-12-2010, 7:45 PM
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As a rule of thumb
USE BY... Eat before the date, may be detramental to your health
SELL BY.... A date the shop should of sold it by but still alright to eat
BEST BEFORE... Ok to eat but may not be as tasty as the time prior to the date shown
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# 5
jbro
Old 30-12-2010, 7:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyldwarf View Post
i think shops can get fined for selling out of date food

I think you're right. My son used to work in a supermarket when he was in 6th form and he was always told to check and remove anything that was out of date.
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# 6
jbro
Old 30-12-2010, 8:01 PM
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From a trading standards website:

"Foods marked with a 'use by' date must not be sold or displayed for sale after their marked dates. It is an offence to sell or offer for sale food past its use by date. For example, use by 5 March means use by midnight on 5 March.
Foods marked with 'best before' or 'best before end' dates may be sold after their marked dates, provided that they remain of good quality and fit for human consumption. In these circumstances it is advisable to ensure that customers know that the date has expired before they make the decision to buy."
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# 7
Miss Orangey Goodness
Old 30-12-2010, 8:55 PM
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I imagine its fine if its "Best Before" - as previous poster says its fine to eat, just wont be as nice.
Things like meats, eggs etc have "use by" where you shouldnt eat thereafter. So I would have been wary though with anything with meat in like your frozen spag bol....are you sure it was best before, not use by...?
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# 8
thatguy1
Old 30-12-2010, 9:07 PM
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You should have taken him for a walk around his shop showing him all the out of date stuff he's got

Last edited by MSE ForumTeam3; 31-12-2010 at 3:49 PM.
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# 9
poohspals
Old 30-12-2010, 10:34 PM
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I think that they have a legal obligation to make the buyers aware that the product is after its date.
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# 10
EltonJohnFan
Old 31-12-2010, 7:55 PM
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Thanks everyone for the information I needed. I've decided to just let this go and won't be using that particular store anymore.
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# 11
fruitcake
Old 31-12-2010, 10:47 PM
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I find out of date products in supermarkets all the time, only yesterday I found a crate of eggs that were use by 22 Dec, when bringing it to the "manager's attention" he shrugged his shoulders and did nothing that was a tesco, and have found chocolates that were three months past their best as well as cereal foods a year out of date!

I am a bargain hunter and have very sharp eyes and find it easy to spot, but the attitude of the supermarkets differ, some staff are thankful and are quick to correct their mistake, while some staff could give a ......
all in all, as far as I have been told, a supermarket can be fined up to 2000 for selling an out of date item, but am not sure how accurate this is.
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# 12
gilligansyle
Old 31-12-2010, 11:44 PM
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If it wasn't for 'Best Before' dates, then sites like Approved Foods, wouldn't do any business, and no one would ever get any bargains.
Even on frozen food, its only a guideline to the taste/flavour quality, it won't do you any harm.
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SnowBelle
Old 01-01-2011, 10:08 AM
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I have a large Co-Op near me,two weeks ago I picked up some Mince Pies when I went to the till the girl scanned them and said they were out of date by one day,she said the till automatically flags it up.
She called the supervisor over and offered me new ones, I said not to worry can I have those a bit cheaper.
The supervisor said sorry they have to go.

Do other stores have this 'flag' system or is it relatively new?
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# 14
LittleVoice
Old 01-01-2011, 6:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowBelle View Post
I have a large Co-Op near me,two weeks ago I picked up some Mince Pies when I went to the till the girl scanned them and said they were out of date by one day,she said the till automatically flags it up.
She called the supervisor over and offered me new ones, I said not to worry can I have those a bit cheaper.
The supervisor said sorry they have to go.

Do other stores have this 'flag' system or is it relatively new?
1 - surely mince pies have a "best before" date, not "eat by"?

2 - the tills could only flag up out of date items if the bar code included a date as well as a price in the coding - perhaps there is an alert to check the date rather than that the till would actually do that

3 - what a waste if they really threw them out when they were edible - and they had a purchaser lined up
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juno
Old 01-01-2011, 6:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowBelle View Post
I have a large Co-Op near me,two weeks ago I picked up some Mince Pies when I went to the till the girl scanned them and said they were out of date by one day,she said the till automatically flags it up.
She called the supervisor over and offered me new ones, I said not to worry can I have those a bit cheaper.
The supervisor said sorry they have to go.

Do other stores have this 'flag' system or is it relatively new?
I explained the system in a different thread. Basically if something is reduced with an orange sticker, the person doing the reduction has to choose the reason (ie short dated or damaged) and can then input the best before date. This information is included in the barcode so that the till will flag it up. However, it does rely on the person choosing the right reason and then also selecting the right date.
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Zeddy
Old 01-01-2011, 8:33 PM
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I realised today that I had picked up and bought yesterday some ham which had a use by date of 29th Dec, so two days before I bought the ham. I emailed Sainsburys this afternoon who within 20mins had apologised greatly and put 5 worth of nectar points on my card.
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# 17
ultimatestirrer
Old 01-01-2011, 11:09 PM
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Default Use By Dates

Selling goods past their use dates is an offence and is one of strict liability. I always buy them if I can, call environmental health and then let the supermarket know I have done this as well.

You can then have grounds to sue and make some money, however this only applies to 'use by' and not best before or sell by.

Use by goods are perishable items such as diary products
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# 18
bribrian
Old 01-01-2011, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultimatestirrer View Post
Selling goods past their use dates is an offence and is one of strict liability. I always buy them if I can, call environmental health and then let the supermarket know I have done this as well.

You can then have grounds to sue and make some money, however this only applies to 'use by' and not best before or sell by.

Use by goods are perishable items such as diary products
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# 19
tealady
Old 02-01-2011, 6:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poohspals View Post
I think that they have a legal obligation to make the buyers aware that the product is after its date.
No they don't. Its a case of Caveat Emptor as the shop is not breaking the law in the case of best before dates.
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# 20
embo70
Old 02-01-2011, 12:22 PM
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at our Spar, if you take something to the till thats out of date they will not sell it to you!
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