Shelf-life and Beyond

What Happens To Old And Expired Supermarket Foods

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As darkness falls, your local supermarket becomes a hive of activity. From canned vegetables and salad dressings to fresh vegetables and deli meats, countless items are removed from shelves by night staff. Approaching their expiration dates or because they are no longer at their peak quality, most stores consider them unfit for sale. With 15,000 different products in an average supermarket and 25,000 in a superstore according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), retailers in the US are lumbered with endless pounds of past-their-prime items every year.

So what comes of all of this food? Fresh vegetables and meats, are often cooked up for in-store deli and salad counters before they spoil, says supermarket consultant David J. Livingston. A portion of it is inevitably thrown into the garbage and ends up in landfills. But surprisingly much of it finds a second home. Some is given away to food banks, some sold to salvage stores and the rest taken by people who scrounge outside supermarkets.

With the current economic troubles, expired foods are increasingly becoming a part of America’s diet. Salvage stores are seeing a steady uptake in business from cost conscious consumers. Similarly food banks across the country have reported an increase of up to 40 percent in the demand for emergency food assistance in the last year, according to a survey by Feeding America, a network of over 200 food banks.

Source: Forbes Read more

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