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Bramble Blog Part Deux – “Best-Before Dates” and such

I’ve written about this a variety of ways, and have deleted all of them because it is a boring subject, indeed; and a very frustrating one as well. As well, all previous versions of this blog have been deleted for Crabbiness. So, here’s the last try:

British Food is, unlike North American food, imported from England by boat. There are great delays, thus, between the manufacturer and my shop. Manufacturers, who assign Best-Before Dates, ship out their goods to Distributors, who ship out goods to other sellers and distributors and retailers in England. From there, it goes to other importers and distributors for the overseas markets. THEN, it goes on a boat and 6-8 weeks later, it arrives in Canada.

Because of all this handling between manufacturing and my store, the prices are going to be higher, of course, because everyone who has handled that case of Salad Cream has charged someone something along the way, and it is why we don’t receive products with brilliant Best Before Dates (BBD).

In short, there is just nothing I can do about the dates on the products we receive. Having said that, the BBD is technically known as a Manufacturer’s Recommended Best Before Date. It is not; I repeat NOT, an EXPIRY DATE. Expiry Dates are for dairy and meat, because those can expire. *cough Including Horse Meat! Cough*

With the exception of Jaffa Cakes, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, and Shortbreads, everything is good for at least 1 year past its BBD. In some cases, like with tinned foods, powders and gravies, and Marmite or Vegemite, the shelf life is anywhere from 10-100 years. In fact, I read somewhere that – with regards to a BBD on a jar of Vegemite – “Vegemite will outlive YOU.” It’s good for a very, very, very long time.

If you are at all squeamish about dates, and if you do truly fear what will happen to you  if you eat a biscuit that is past its date, then I recommend you buy North American products. They are full of sugar and salt and other marvelous preservatives than allow North American manufacturers to put extended BBDates on their product.

Oh god, I did it again. I slipped into something crabby. My apologies. We have been trying to be more vigilant about products that are past their date, and I will continue to closely monitor this with products on the shelves. It is an ongoing problem for us, and we will continue to find ways to avoid this. For the most part, the inventory is quite FRESH. And biscuits that have passed their BBD are fine to eat. As I mentioned, shortbreads are different because of the butter content, although the shortbreads are, in fact, good for about 4 months past their date. Nevertheless, I am taking this issue seriously because it clearly matters to quite a few of you. As I say, we will continue our vigilance on ensuring that products past their BBD are not on the shelves.

I will, however, put products that have passed their BBD such as Vegemite or gravies/powders, sauces and such on the discount shelf because there is absolutely nothing wrong with those products. So I’ll amend my promise that products past their BBD will not be on the main shelves but in some cases, will be on the discount shelf.

There. Done. If you have questions, concerns, worries, please do contact me. I want to be sure that everyone feel comfortable buying the British food. I will be polite about it, too.

NOW: I am off to Portugal for a week. True story. My mother found an irresistibly inexpensive deal on a month’s – stay at this apartment-hotel in Faro, Portugal. I am going down there to collect her, essentially, and to prowl the streets of Faro for a bit, eat something amazing, drink wine in some sunshine, stuff like that. I understand she has made many friends there, and they are already awaiting my arrival (“Oooh so YOU’RE the other daughter!”) so that’s going to be great fun.

I will return on March 1st so that February can continue on without me, thanks very much, I do hate this month the most. Barney will be in excellent hands, although not in the shop.

See you lovelies on the other side of February!

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