Oct 212015
 
Checking Belize expiry dates is a must. Common practice when the “best before” date expires is to reduce the price rather than remove the product.

Checking Belize expiry dates is a must. Common practice when the “best before” date expires is to reduce the price rather than remove the product.

Checking Belize Expiry Dates.

I must preface this post regarding checking Belize expiry dates by saying that it is neither my intention to promote nor to criticize life in Belize. It is my intention to inform, and while life here is usually everything we expected and hoped for, as with anywhere you might go, from time to time I find myself shaking my head and with an inside voice asking “why”, while at the same time with an outside voice accepting the situation and   saying, “it is what it is”.

In today’s picture you will see some familiar products that are sitting on the shelf of our local grocery store. These packages of dry cereal are priced at $3.75 while down the shelf a little further is the brightly colored box with the famous Toucan priced at $8.75 for the exact same size package and product. So, Where’s the box? Has the box been crushed? Has the box been lost? Is the box actually worth $5.00? In all cases the answer is probably no.

What’s the date in Belize today?

In Belize it is common practice that when the “best before” date passes (expires) products are not necessarily removed from the shelves but rather are reduced in price. It is important to be aware to check expiry dates on all perishables carefully. Lorilee came across mayonnaise a few weeks ago marked down to less than half price, great deal. As always watching for deals she grabbed it. At this point because we have learned the hard way in the past, she is now checking Belize expiry dates, as a result she returned the bottle while informing the young lady that was building the display that the date had expired. The young lady replied “yes ma’am, that is why it is at a reduced price”.

Where did the $5.00 go?

Back to the original question of where did the $5.00 go? Well……………..the short answer is that it simply expired. The box containing the “best before date” was removed. Again I don’t mention this as a criticism but rather to inform. I am not saying it is right or wrong, I am just saying make sure you are checking Belize expiry dates. This is one of those times I find myself shaking my head and with an inside voice saying, “it is what it is”.

What do these terms mean?

This is not a new practice in Belize and although it is not condoned by public health officials, the practice continues.  It is important to know the meaning and the difference between the following terms;

  • Shelf Life
  • Best Before
  • Use by
  • Sell by/Display until
  • Expiration Date

For the definition of these terms and for guidelines on how long some products are good for, read this 2011 article that still remains relevant.

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  4 Responses to “Checking Belize Expiry Dates ~ What you need to know”

  1. Thanks for giving the heads up on this Bill. You can always check with the manufacturer of the product to find out if its a “Best By” date or a “Use By” date. Many times it is also stamped on the interior packaging but may be encoded.

    Another thing you want to watch is that some stores turn off their refrigerators at night to save on the electric. Its hard to tell which stores are doing it and how often. Obviously, there are very reputable stores in every country; as well as those that need to cut corners to make a profit. Just be aware, observant, and eat fresh whenever possible.

    • Thanks for your comment kcgoatroper, that is good information and much appreciated.

      I should explain that the purpose of this post was to neither promote nor condemn the practices in Belize, but to inform my friends and followers back in North America that are used to expired products being removed from the shelf, and as result like me, may not pay much attention or be aware when they first come to Belize, that expired products here are often marked down rather than removed.

      Usually “Best by” or “Use by” will accompany the expiry date. Checking with the manufacturer online while in the store is another option for some, but for most of us, mobile internet is priced well above our budget here in Belize. Expiry dates IMHO are just a guideline and shouldn’t be followed to the day or in some cases even to the month. These dates are based on the product as well as an assumption of proper storage at certain temperatures. I can almost assure you that those temps are probably exceeded in the hull of a water taxi or in some back storage rooms during the hotter times of the year reducing shelf life. I can’t speak from any personal experience to vendors actually shutting off coolers over night on purpose, but in Belize stores often expand without increasing electrical capacity and while they don’t experience problems during normal operation and random cycling of equipment off and on, with power interuptions more common here, over night outages can cause breakers to trip from the initial overload as all the equipment tries to start at once when the power comes back on. This may not be discovered until morning when the store reopens. Common sense dictates here I think, products like mayonaise, milk, or cheese products need to be treated with a bit more care than say, dry cereal or uncooked pasta.

  2. I have observed this practice in small local stores here in my rural community.
    They can’t get away with it as easily, but they will try.

    For instance, I was doing a small testing job for a soft drink bottler.
    I was to collect samples from the area of different types of pop.

    I found a lot of out of date stuff, especially in the small convenience stores.
    One proprietor was upset that I hadn’t ‘called ahead’ to tell him I was going to be shopping for samples.
    (uh, that would kind of defeat the purpose, don’t ya know)

    In reality, though, a lot of those dates, depending on the product, are just to cover the manufacturer’s back end.

    Much like the cleaning instructions on a polyester t-shirt to ‘dry clean only’. Seriously?

    • Hi Sue,
      I hear what you are saying about Manufactures covering their back end. There is little enforcement of expiry dates here so the practice is more prevalent and often not even hidden. I think you are right that some products are more vulnerable than others. Dried cereal might be safer than than the 120 oz bottle of mayonnaise. It is also important to consider that in Belize the cold chain is often broken during shipping and may be stored in a 110 degree storage room for who knows how long. So that safety factor by manufactures may well be reduced. Another case of the comfort level of the individual when purchasing these products.

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