Deciphering Food Labels.

crunch-bar1

I made a lasagne the other day. No biggie. Pain in the ass really, but worth the labour for the end result. Anyway, after we ate it, I started to sort out the bomb site that you kitchen becomes after making lasagne, when I noticed something on the box of pasta sheets.

BEST BEFORE AUGUST 2009.

And straight away, I knew that I was going to hell for trying to poison my family. I asked everyone how they felt and was reliably told that they felt full. It has been a week now, and apart from attitude by the bucket loads, nobody fell ill.

So here is the skinny on these labels and warnings that I have learnt since, proudly stolen from the NSW Food Authority Website.

‘use-by’: foods must be eaten or thrown away by the date

  • After this date foods may be unsafe to eat even if they look fine, because the nutrients in the food may become unstable or a build-up of bacteria may occur.
  • It is illegal to sell foods after a ‘use-by’ date.
  • Common ‘use-by’ foods include milk, sliced ham, and shaved meats.

‘best before’: foods are still safe to eat after the date as long as they are not damaged, deteriorated or perished

  • The ‘best before’ date simply indicates that the product may lose some of its quality after this date passes
  • Foods can be legally sold after a ‘best before’ date as long as they are not damaged, deteriorated or perished
  • You can expect these foods to retain their colour, taste, texture and flavour as long as they are stored correctly
  • Common ‘best before’ foods include canned foods, cereals, biscuits, sauces, chocolate, sugar, flour and frozen foods

Speaking of DETERIORATED, I shall tell you a yarn from my youth.

I was about 12, away from home at boarding school. Once a week, we were able to go to Franklins with $2, which we were given. The deal was, you needed to be wise with your coin, to stretch it to the maximum capacity. I would often buy a packet of no-frills bullets, a fresh cob of corn because I am strange like that, and a chocolate bar.

The one day in question, I selected a CRUCH bar after much deliberation. The Chokito was calling to me, but the Crunch won out in the end. Anyway, I got back to the boarding house, ripped open the Crunch Bar and got stuck into it like a slobbering, ravenous animal.

It was not until I was about half way through that I noticed my Crunch Bar was moving. On closer inspection, I realised that the rice bubbles in the chocolate was infested with maggots.

This bar would come under the label of DETERIORATED.

After I recovered from the horror that I had eaten maggots, my feelings turned to those of OUTRAGE! I had spent 60 precious cents on a putrid, inedible chocolate bar. I quickly wrote an OUTRAGED letter to Nestle, getting the address off the side of the packet, and sent it off to them with the maggoty chocolate bar as evidence.

And then I promptly forgot all about it becasue my thoughts were too busy filled with how I was going to get River Pheonix to marry me.

So you could imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, a large box was delivered to me from Nestle. It contained every single chocolate bar they made. I immediately placed a 200% mark up on the products and made a small fortune selling them to the other girls, which was then spent back down at Franklins.

In conclusion, I look back at that as an exercise in risk, blackmail, knowing the market well, and of course luck.

And you got to suck some maggots to gain great rewards.

Have you ever eaten something at a food court that you know is going to come back to haunt you?

What is the most Out of Date product in your cupboard right now?

Go on, I will wait…..