Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tasmania Trip (3) - Of ICA, IGA and Expired Goods

This morning, I was reading the Wikipedia frontpage when I came across the ICA meat repackaging controversy. Apparently a few hypermarkets in Sweden allegedly repackaged out-of-date meat and put it back on the shelves, jeopardizing the public's health. It forced the ICA (the supermarket chain) to apologize and withdraw some of their festival programs.

This incident reminds me of some encounters I had with IGA (Independent Grocers of Australia), one of the popular supermarket chains in Australia.

There are IGA stores all around Australia in just about every state, and there used to be one just downstairs when I lived in the College Square apartment in my first two years. While that particular IGA was pretty convenient, the price was rather reasonable, and the owners were friendly; there was something that I found disagreeable - sometimes they sell expired goods.

There are sometimes chips, chocolates or sweets that have expired for weeks or months in the store. While some of them are labelled as "reduced to clear" (which is an euphemism for "expired goods to be lelong-ed"); some of them are mixed in together with other goods. If one is not careful enough, he is at risk of consuming expired stuff. But then we kind of lived with it, and picked up the good habit of checking "Best Before" dates for every single thing.

Just a few days ago, when we were in Launceston, Tasmania, we lived in an apartment with an IGA just next door to it. The IGA was a full-size hypermarket and they sell quite a huge variety of goods. When we first arrived in the apartment, we visited the IGA at night to stock up our food for the next day. We were browsing about the hypermarket when, to our shock, we came across some expired drinks in the refrigerator. The first bottle of fruit juice, produced by a famous local brewery, had a sticker that says "Best Before March 2007". The second bottle of fruit juice, with a different flavour, had an amazing best-before date of September 2006.

We were rather irked by the expired drinks, so we brought the two bottles to the cashier and told him about it. He smilingly apologised and put the two bottles beside him. With that, we paid for our own food, and left the IGA for our apartment.

Two days later, we stayed in the same apartment again, and as a routine we headed back to the same IGA for more shopping. We thought, oh, for the sake of it, let's just see if there are still any expired drinks or snacks around in the supermarket. And, after one minute...

We found the same two bottles of fruit juice, displayed nicely on the rack.

How disappointing. Not all supermarkets are irresponsible, but the ones that are, shame on them.

p/s: Yong Chin had a theory about what the supermarkets think about best-before dates - "It says best before, after that not that best but still okay..." And may I add, "after one year, still not too bad lah".


day-dreamer said...

Wah, how sad.

That's why I always checked the expiry dates of goods

You know something... sometimes I tell my friends what Yong Chin told you too, unless they state "expiry date: (date)". Haha :P

sophisticatedsoul said...

Indeed. I always wonder if Best Before and Expiry Date are equivalent.

youngyew said...

Haha turned out that it's okay to sell things past the best-before date.


Yee Won said...

Hello, I'm studying in Launceston, Tasmania and i do agree that IGA sells expired stuff. But the IGA outlet i went to was in Orford, a small town at the East coast of Tasmania. We do our shopping at Woolworth or Coles.I'd like to ask which outlet is the IGA u mentioned located? Is it in Prospect?

youngyew said...

Yup it's in Prospect. Have you had some experience with that particular outlet?