Mummy Buzz


Grocery Chains Sell Canned Food YEARS Past Best Before Date

Something Fishy Going on

A major audit is in the works after an investigation revealed that Canadian major grocery chains are selling canned past their shelf life—sometimes YEARS past their 'best before' dates.

“It was scary. Very frightening,” said 78-year-old Margaret Radomski, who felt ill after consuming a can of lobster pâté from Wal-Mart that turned out to be more than a year out of date. “So, then I thought, how did this get on the shelf? There is something wrong here.”

According to an article by the CBC, Radomski felt sick hours after eating the Clover Leaf pâté, which she claimed "smelled and tasted too fishy." Then came the shocker: she checked the can's 'best before' date, which was July 2011—a year and a half before she bought it.

Do you always check the date on canned goods before you buy them? Probably not, since most consumers trust that is the store's job to stock carefully and pull expired items from the shelves to protect its consumers. 

“I feel insecure now," said Radomski, who turned down Wal-Mart's $50 compensation. "When I go to the store, I’ve got to study more of what I am buying.”

Of course Wal-Mart spokeswoman Felicia Fefer was quick to state regret over the incident and remind the public that it takes food safety seriously. 

However, a little detective work by CBC-TV's Go Public found that 17 major grocery stores (most of which were found in Safeway locations) in the Vancouver area carried outdated cans of fish and seafood on their shelves, in some cases mixed in with new ones. Some were past shelf life by as many as five years. Ouch.

Strangely, manufacturers maintain that age has little to do with product safety when it comes to canned fish. Unless the can has been damaged, the contents aren't necessarily 'off.'  

Frighteningly, selling out-of-date canned goods doesn't breach any government rules against selling outdated canned goods, or even any concrete proof that the contents can make you ill. 

“There is not enough data, so it’s hard to judge,” said Siyun Wang, University of B.C. professor of food engineering. “It certainly is not good to have food past the best by date in terms of the quality.” Others claim BPA [Bisphenol A] can be present, particularly in imported canned fish.

Thanks to the Go Public inquiries, Safeway is conducting a national audit of its canned meat and fish inventory in Canadian stores. Have a story to share with Go Public? Spill it here.