Dander in a Full Upright and Locked Position

After suffering the slings and arrows of my eye checkup yesterday, I drove home in the pouring rain and freezing wind, then decided to stop off at my local Safeway to pick up a few items.

After a long and cranky week, I decided to whip up a batch of my homemade caramel sauce and I needed ingredients along with ice cream, whipped cream and lovely salty chopped nuts to complete the sundae I had in mind.

Over in the ice cream section, I looked (through dilated eyes) at the topping choices, and selected chopped almonds and pecans (my two favorites in the nut kingdom) in a can with a photo of Paula Deen. They were a little gourmet, but on sale and seemed like a nice treat.


Later that evening, as my caramel bubbled on the stove, I popped open the can of nuts to find one large clump of nuts stuck together. I broke off a pecan and tasted it. It was stale and rubbery.

I turned the can over and discovered that the contents had expired in September 2010.

I’d bought this item five months past the expiration date. FIVE months.

Then I sighed. This has become an epidemic in my area. It doesn’t matter what grocery store I visit, including Safeway, Trader Joe’s or Lucky, I *always* find expired items on the shelves.

Sure, we all dutifully check expiration dates on meat and dairy products, but do you ever bother to look at the expiration date on prepackaged food? I never did, but now I’m a bit of fanatic about it.

The worst, by far, was when I bought a brick of the “processed cheese food” known as Velveeta. I was making a party dip and nothing else will do.

When I opened the foil covering, the brick of cheese was dry and had turned a gross dark orange. I looked at the expiration date, and the block had expired over a year prior. A YEAR!

I took that freaking thing back to the store and demanded that the clerk look at the cheesy abomination. He was as horrified as I was, and promptly gave me my money back.

Here’s my theory…

I suspect that given the tougher economic times, people aren’t buying as much as they once did, so inventory isn’t naturally turning.

Add to that, grocery stories are trying to keep their doors open and have reduced their staff, trying to get by with as few people as possible on the payroll.

What that means is the staff in place can’t be as diligent about freshening inventory as they should be.

It’s a reasonable explanation but doesn’t make me any happier.

So, friends and dear readers, a reminder…check the expiration dates on EVERY item you lift from the shelves of your local grocer. Every item.

I’m pretty diligent about this, and even I forget sometimes (like yesterday).

Just, ew.

Photo from WikiMedia username Mattes and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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  • Natalie

    That happened to me last week with chicken. Chicken!! Looked fine until I opened it and…. WHEW! Nasty.
    What’s even sadder, I’ve noticed, is that specialty stuff is simply disappearing off shelves to be replaced by store-brand blah stuff.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Natalie – There is nothing grosser than the smell of chicken that’s turned to the dark side. Nasty, indeed! Bleah!

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