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Tons of expired meat and products are being sold apparently for a long time on the island of Curacao, raising many questions about efficiency & credibility among big names in the food industry.
Many it seems are unaware of this crucial element endangering health and society, they think buying from well-known sources is always fresh and safe and tend not to give much attention about the expiry date stamped somewhere on the products, but this is all about to end and consumers must think twice from now on when doing their purchases and checking the food products dating.
It is important to understand that the dates applied to food are for safety reasons and for monitoring the quality of product prior to its consumption.
Some supermarkets meat departments do their own labeling which means if an item is set to expire and it still looks okay, they allow themselves to put a new label on, moving the expiry date for 1 or 2 weeks ahead ; when fresh meat has been sitting in a refrigerator for few days, it oxidizes and starts to turn brown, in order to avoid having to throw it away , they treat it with carbon monoxide which interacts with the myoglobin in the meat, keeping in the bright red color ,this gas has been shown to keep meat looking artificially fresh for up to a full year , also sodium and potassium salts are often added to sausages, salamis and bacon to suppress bacteria and preserve the color, giving them a shelf life of six months or more and let’s not forget to mention the deli slicer, and the cold cuts that it slices that are at serious risk of contamination if the blade isn’t regularly cleaned, it can transfer bacteria to everything it touches , if you open up a package of raw meat and it smells funky, or it is slimy, it’s advisable to take it back for a refund , the food business is responsible for the food it transports, stores and sells.
As for chicken, spoiled ones allow dangerous bacteria to breed and can often not be killed by simply cooking it, it will have a rotten odor and a darker color, these bacteria will cause food poisoning such as vomiting, upset stomach, bloating, fever, diarrhea, or even more serious symptoms, some researchers found a link between food poisoning and intestinal and stomach cancer.
One other important thing needs to be highlighted is the difference between the” expiration date” and the” best before date” in case you get confused.
Expiration date tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume and food should never be consumed after the expiry date because it becomes unsafe, as for the best before date, it means that food will only stay fresh for a month or less depending how storage is taking place.
Generally, if the food changes color or appearance, or develops a bad smell, it is no longer safe to eat, people used to feel comfortable scraping mould off the top of food and continuing to eat it but nowadays, that’s not considered safe, as mould is believed to contaminate food beyond what’s visible to the human eye, they must get rid of moldy cheese, breads, yogurts …
Most popular sliced breads have preservatives, they may be baked using enzymes that don’t have to be declared on ingredients lists, so beware of labels that say ‘stays fresher longer’ because that is far from being real bread.
Consumers must be cautious when buying and handling meat, washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces as to what is known as cross-contamination.
In supermarkets (employees)or at home (consumers)always make sure to wash hands with warm water and soap and wash used surfaces the same, and keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat food, fruits and vegetables to prevent foodborne illness.
Consumer rights must be protected, they are entitled to fight back against abusive business practices and hold sellers of goods and services accountable when they take advantage of them or in cases of massive fraud.
Schrijfster voor Curacao Chronicle