Some friends and I were discussing a recent episode of Oprah, in which several people shared their experiences with Dumpster diving for groceries. Out of curiosity, I decided to call both of our local grocery stores (that's right, two stores--we're a small town and proud!) to find out what they do with food that is about to expire and what they do with it once it's past the stamped date. How fascinating!
Both stores said they reduce the price of meat, dairy and produce to try to get them to sell more quickly. One store said they freeze meat to prolong its sell-by date, and also mentioned that some expired canned goods can be returned to the company!
I was really interested when a store manager mentioned this next example because this had just happened to me. When we were unpacking our groceries recently, I noticed a cereal box that was stamped with the previous day's date. I thought it kind of odd that they would sell a product past its date, but the manager said products that say "best by" are handled differently than those that say "expiration date." Makes sense, I just never knew that.
Both stores said they pitch dairy products and produce that are past their prime, and neither store allows employees to take anything home with them, except for what is in the regular reduced section. One manager said they have that policy so that employees won't think they can take products home if they're near expiring. Interesting! One of the workers I talked to said they used to have several people root through their Dumpster, but that the traffic has slowed down in recent years.
It makes me sad to think of all this wasted food. I'm sure other stores have other policies, such as donating food to shelters or pantries. Do you know your store's policies in this matter? Do you regularly check the reduced grocery sections? Have you/would you ever look through a (grocery) store's Dumpster?