Greek Grocers Get New Rules For Expired Food

Listen

Loading…

A new regulation in Greece is requiring supermarkets to label and reduce prices of nonperishable food sold after the recommended day of consumption. The government says such goods have been sold since 1989, but at the same price as nonexpired perishable goods. Now, supermarkets must set the goods aside on a separate shelf and mark the price down. Are Greeks welcoming the change or suspicious about lax regulation?

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, let's go next to Greece. The deep recession that's hit that country has seen household incomes cut by up to 50 percent at a time when the cost of living is still among the highest in the European Union. To ease the financial pain, the government wants supermarkets to start selling some non-perishable food items at much lower prices. But here's the catch: The discounted items will all be past their sell-by dates. Anti-austerity activists say this is immoral. Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: When the Greek government announced the new food policy earlier this month, critics pounced immediately. Anti-austerity bloggers said it divides consumers into those who can afford basic food and those who cannot. They said supermarkets would soon be selling stale bread, dodgy Greek yogurt and salmonella.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KAKISSIS: Journalists on a Greek morning news show accused Deputy Development Minister Thanassis Skordas of allowing the sale of old food that supermarkets, quote, "send to the pigs."

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KAKISSIS: An exasperated Skordas said the journalists were lying and scaring Greeks into believing that austerity was driving supermarkets to sell products that would poison the public. Obviously, he said, the government will always forbid the sale of perishable foods that have expired.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS BROADCAST)

THANASSIS SKORDAS: (Through translator) Milk, fresh juice, meat and cheese cannot stay on supermarket shelves even a minute past their expiration date.

KAKISSIS: The new policy only applies to non-perishable foods like the pasta, spices and canned tomato sauce that tellers are ringing up at this Athens supermarket. Those items have what's called a recommended sell-by date. Food experts say they're safe to consume for a little while after the date, though the items lose flavor. The development ministry says the products must have a second label noting their final sell-by date.

The Food Safety Board will set that date, which will range from an extra week to an extra three months, depending on the product, Skordas says.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

SKORDAS: (Through translator) The items must also be placed on a separate shelf and marked at a much lower price. Of course, we are not forcing anyone to sell these products, but if they choose to, they must follow these rules.

KAKISSIS: He said consumers could save up to 80 percent on these items, but the markdowns will be left to the merchant's discretion. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis, in Athens.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.