Recently, about 120 consumer rights and protection volunteers visited 54 Shanghai markets to check out if they were selling any food or products that were past their expiration dates. If they found anything that was clearly past the expiration date or a product where the date of production or shelf life was not clearly indicated (and indicated in Chinese), they would buy the product and make a record of it. This research was all conducted secretly.
We don’t know where to find the complete results (maybe we would rather not know), but they did list two examples of what they found: “gluten”, with a shelf life of 30 days, was made on April 28 and discovered still for sale on June 9. At Carrefour they discovered some cake that is only good for one day, it was made on June 9 and was still on sale on June 10! Related reports show up intermittently on TV and the media, showing that this is an ongoing problem. Check your stuff before you buy, even though finding those little numbers is a pain in the ass. Maybe for people who don’t read Chinese they ought to include English indications.
The first thing we did after reading this was to check all the food in our apartment. Luckily, all that amounts to is the pack of peanuts in front of us, which was made on June 10, 2006 and is good for 360 days. To make us feel even more at ease, our peanuts have even passed muster with the ISO9001 as well as the “Shanghai Seed and Nut Roasters Association.”
Photo from epaper.bjd.com.