October 6, 2008

Consumer Reports Reveals Where Expiring Groceries Go


Contact: Melissa Valentino of Consumer Reports, +1-914-378-2432, [email protected]

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Sometimes supermarket products, such as meat, milk, muffins, and canned goods stick around beyond their sell-by or use-by dates. Consumer Reportsmystery shoppers recently discovered 72 products past their prime in 31 stores across seven states. The magazine's editors decided to get the scoop from food industry insiders and reveal what happens to expiring groceries in its November issue.

Consumer Reportsfound that many retailers and manufacturers donate expiring goods that aren't spoiled to hunger-relief charities and others donate directly to local groups. These goods are usually fine for people to eat because many date codes on products indicate when an item is apt to be fresh and flavorful rather than unfit for consumption. Consumers can find information on how long products stay good enough to eat by visiting www.fsis.usda.govand entering the search term "food product dating."

Most grocery chains and major food manufacturers work with Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief charity in the U.S. The organization also works with the agricultural industry to collect items that aren't suitable for retail sale but are still suitable for consumption. It distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated groceries per year to 200 food banks, which work with community-based food pantries and soup kitchens to feed the hungry.

Besides expiring goods, Feeding America also collects bruised produce, items with missing labels, overstocks, and discontinued merchandise. The organization asks supermarkets to freeze fresh meat shortly before its sell-by-date, which provides an extra 60 to 90 days to distribute the food.

For many years, supermarkets were reluctant to donate perishables because executives worried about lawsuits stemming from the consumption of bad food, even if spoilage occurred after the products left the store. However, fears were allayed by the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed in 1996, which shields companies from liability as long as the food was donated in good faith.

The full report on expired groceries is featured in the November issue of Consumer Reports,on sale October 7 and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.


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SOURCE Consumer Reports

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