Woolworths – formerly the fresh food people

asp 25 August 2007 85

On the 7th April 2007, a batch of Southcape Garlic Feta Cheese was on a shelf in Woolworths Lanyon, when the clock ticked midnight, signaling the day of it’s use by. So why then did I find several blocks of this cheese today, the 25th of August? It was at the front and the shelf was fully stocked. It wasn’t marked down, no marked as being past the use by.

Cheese won’t make you sick if it is even a month over. But more than 4 months!

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85 Responses to Woolworths – formerly the fresh food people
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ant ant 9:23 pm 26 Aug 07

Queanbeyan Coles is worse. They solve this problem though by just not stocking the shelves at all. They seem to think that, once the popular (cheap) stuff is gone, customers will just grab the expensive versions, thus ensuring that all the stuff is sold and so nothing goes off.

meanwhile, their milk always goes off in the fridge several days before the use-by. While milk from queanbeyan Woolies is fine.

I-filed I-filed 9:10 pm 26 Aug 07

The end ‘aisle’ at Woollies Dickson where the chicken is STINKS from three metres away. I saw a woman buying chicken on special in a plastic bag that was extended from the gases building up inside. EW. Oh, and I’ve learned not to bother reaching to the back of food to get the latest date in say eggs – most shoppers would assume that they rotate the stock, but they just shove it all on the front. Bad luck to anyone buying later! Huge kudos to the practices of small retailer Mountain Creek in Griffith – anything out of date they give you for free, or practically nothing. And no, I have no association with MC, just shop there every few weeks.

bd84 bd84 8:47 pm 26 Aug 07

Most supermarkets have staff who check all the perishable stock on a daily basis.. but as jr mentioned most supermarket chains are just too slack to get someone to do the job on their days off (combined with the fking lazy people who are around these days and just don’t bother about going to work)..

It happens, they can’t guarantee that every single item in the many thousands of items in store won’t be out of date no matter how hard they try, if there was more than one it was probably placed back on the shelf by accident.. best thing is to tell a staff member and if it happens regularly speak to the manager.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 6:16 pm 26 Aug 07

From Food Standards Australia New Zealand:

What is a ‘best-before’ date?

A ‘best-before’ date is the last date on which a food can be expected to retain all of its quality attributes, provided that it has been stored in accordance with any stated storage conditions.

Quality attributes include things such as colour, taste, texture and flavour, as well as any specific qualities for which express or implied claims have been made. For example, the freshness of the food or certain vitamin levels. A food that has passed its ‘best-before’ date may still be perfectly safe to consume, but its
quality may have diminished. Food date-marked with a ‘best-before’ date can be sold after this date, provided the food is
not damaged, deteriorated or perished. It is an offence under New Zealand and Australian State and Territory Food Acts to sell food that is damaged, deteriorated or perished at any time, regardless of whether the food is within its specified date mark or not.

asp asp 6:03 pm 26 Aug 07

My understanding (unless it has changed in the past year) is that items with a Use-By can not be sold past that date. Items with a Best Before can for up to 4 weeks, and then only when clearly marked as past the Best Before. This could be state dependent though, as this was the word I got from NSW Health about a year ago. On this occasion however, the cheese had a Use-By. Odd, because most of those special Southcapes have a Best Before.

GnT GnT 12:40 pm 26 Aug 07

There is a difference between “Use-by” and “Best Before” dates. My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that it is illegal to sell items past their use-by, but not their best before. Chees usually has a “best before” date. You can safely consume items past their best before date, but should avoid items past thei use-by.

Still, 4 months is a bit much.

el el 11:50 am 26 Aug 07

Jemmy – The trucks are refrigerated. The freezers at most supermarkets here just aren’t that cold, I’ve noticed it too.

Now, completely off-topic – I’ve just discovered a WordPress feature -I can click, drag and expand the text window that I’m typing into now! Stoked! I thought it was fixed only showing about 3 and a half narrow lines. Really, really hoping that this wasn’t common knowledge amongst the rest of you but I thought it worth sharing. Makes editing/proofreading long comments a lot easier.

Anyway, continue….

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 11:01 am 26 Aug 07

Just to double-check: was it a “use by” date, or a “best before” date?

green_frogs_go_pop green_frogs_go_pop 10:50 am 26 Aug 07

Eww! thats so gross…but that is so lanyon!!

Being a woolies employee myself (thank god i dont work there..), all i can say is complain, complain, complain, complain!!

and really, how did they manage to make THAT stuff up?

(and about the whole unloading stuff in freezer..i thought most places already do that? Well..at least my woolies does!)

jemmy jemmy 8:21 am 26 Aug 07

Talking about refrigerated goods: a particular thing I’ve noticed here is how much frozen food has thawed and refrozen. It’s endemic, to the point where, for a particular frozen desert I buy, it is the exception to find one that hasn’t thawed (you can tell because the contents are semi-liquid when thawed and so have shifted within the container). It’s illegal where I come from and supermarkets have to monitor freezer temps to make sure they don’t go above freezing. I’ve never seen the device they use here in Canberra, so am assuming the freezers aren’t monitored.

Someone suggested it’s because we’re in the middle of the bush, but surely the system is the same no matter where you are: load the truck, transport it, unload the truck and stock in freezer. Sure, the transport time is longer, but the trucks are refrigerated, aren’t they?

jr jr 12:56 am 26 Aug 07

My neighbour used to have a (part time) job going around the local Woolworths supermarket checking the use by dates, bringing older stock to the front of the shelves, marking down items that were close to use-by dates and removing (throwing out) the stock that was actually past its use-by dates.

She remarked on several occasions that other people that were “supposed” to be doing that role on her days off were typically slack as they they were running flat out just keeping up with their normal other tasks.

Unfortunately, I have found that the issue of stock past its use-by date is probably more prevalent in the smaller independent local centre supermarkets where the turn over due to lower patronage is often much lower.

The problem is really of most concern with perishable/refrigerated goods. As in most cases there is typically a large safety factor between the use-by (or best-before) dates. A classic example of this would be bottled water… not sure that plain water in a bottle realistically has a use-by date of 12 months or so in the bottle given that is may have spent thousands if not millions of years in the ground before it was bottled.

Either way, I was under the impression that it is not legal (on health grounds) to sell food stuffs where the use-by date has expired. You should make the store duty manager aware of the problem if it is happening on a regular basis, otherwise the food safety inspection area within ACT Government usually achieves the desired longer term compliance effect if store management just ignores you.

Hasdrubahl Hasdrubahl 10:54 pm 25 Aug 07

It’s not cheese if it’s not green.

VicePope VicePope 10:43 pm 25 Aug 07

I’ve always found Woolies and Coles to be pretty good at turning stock over and heavily discounting stuff that is running out of date, and I hope what ASP experienced was an aberration. Woolies has a complaint page on its website and this might be a good option.

On the other hand, some small/independent/local businesses have been problematic, in my experience. A couple of regional cuisine specialists stick out in my mind.

Food is not eternal, and if it is not a mushroom or a truffle, one should not be eating fungal matter.

(I do not work in or for a supermarket and have not done so since I was about 15).

jemmy jemmy 10:20 pm 25 Aug 07

I always check bacon, ham, etc now after getting one two months past the use-by a couple of years ago. It’s more common than you’d expect to find an expired one, so I don’t think it’s just W Lanyon. And when I say expired I don’t mean yesterday, I mean weeks out-of-date. BTW, the original one when I first noticed it was Coles.

el el 10:19 pm 25 Aug 07

Unfortunately I’d suggest the outbreak of food poisoning has already occured, asp.

Perhaps a lawsuit might be a sufficient wakeup call to these crap merchants?

asp asp 10:14 pm 25 Aug 07

GnT, you don’t work for Woolies do you?
As soon as I found the product was past it, and realized it was not the only one, I took it to the service desk and informed them. The staff member took it, checked it, produced a rather annoyed face and stated that this was unacceptable and she would rectify it.
It seems pretty pointless telling them again and again though. This is the third time in 12 months for the Lanyon store. I still do because I would feel bad knowing products were off and then hearing about an outbreak of food poisoning.

el el 9:45 pm 25 Aug 07

Yep. I know of a couple of people who have become severely unwell having consumed the stuff.

Hooray for big business!

cranky cranky 9:18 pm 25 Aug 07

Um, if I overstay my parking meter, the wrath of Hopeless arrives.
The powers that be have decreed that food over the use-by date should be disappeared. I would not expect any sense from a Woolworths manager on this subject. Smear ’em.

Kramer Kramer 9:08 pm 25 Aug 07

What do you expect living all the way down there? It takes at least 4 months for the cheese to be shipped there. By the time the cheddar arrives it is stinky, soft and white so they relabel it.

GnT GnT 9:04 pm 25 Aug 07

Did you voice your concerns to the manager of said Woolworths? Or have you just come straight to RiotACT to smear them?

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