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超级市场是如何处理过期食品的?

超级市场是如何处理过期食品的?
原作者:Brian Lee, Student 布莱恩·李 学生

译者:consideRay

我曾经在一家大型超市做过兼职和管理的工作,我可以告诉你过期食品的处理方法已经经历了令人瞩目的演变。其实关于食品首先要知道这几个不同的日期:销售限期,最佳食用期以及保质期。

简单地回答你的问题,没错,很多过期食品都会被扔掉。

详细地来说呢,大部分的超市在减少浪费这一块都做得很不错。几乎全部种类的食品,特别是那些容易腐坏的,都会被要求在下批货物运到前差不多要卖完。你想想如果在晚上八点的时候,超市的新鲜三文鱼都卖完了,而且又没到鲜鱼到货,他们会专门卖8盎司鱼肉给你吗?即使是再想抢客源的店家也不会这样做吧。

处理过期食品的行规是这样的:如果是无论怎么处理都不安全的过期食品会被丢掉。而其他的他们总会找到方法来再利用。

农产品:

水果和蔬菜没有一个明确的保质期。你大概不会在农产品区看到开始发黑的香蕉躺在货架上。如果有卖不出去的农产品,它们通常都会被加工食品的部门收走,然后被制作成各种食品来提供给熟食店,沙拉吧或者是流动厨房(为流浪汉提供食物的地方)之类的。对于过了销售期限但仍在最佳食用期内的肉类跟海鲜也是采用这样的处理方法。

对于其他不能再利用的农产品,堆肥似乎是一个再自然不过的选择。这个方法已经在我工作的超市经过了不断的探索研究,我们发现了堆肥的过程中有两个主要的困难。

1. 储存。

大部分的农场都会离市区的(或者市郊的)商店很远。由于农产品都很容易腐坏,农场每天要都把可以堆肥的农产品挑出来。商家不会选择在店里储存农产品,因为一大堆腐烂中的水果会吸引各种讨厌的害虫到店里来。加上每日的回收是很难做到的,而且你觉得在货运以及人力的上花的额外成本可以收得回来吗?堆肥所需的物流成本会比你想象的要多得多。

2. 召回。

不幸的是,蔬菜和水果因受到污染而被召回的事的确有发生。大多数的召回会发生在农产品放到已经放上货架之后。如果商店拿甜瓜来堆肥了,同时这种甜瓜在两天之后由于沙门氏菌污染被召回了,那么当地的农场都已经铺满了这种死亡堆肥了。我不是食物中毒或者堆肥的专家,所以我不知道这种担忧合不合理,但我知道这听起来很可怕。不过这也足够让堆肥这种想法束之高阁了。

 

烘焙食品:

基本上全部不新鲜的面包都会捐给当地的食物银行(提供穷人或无家可归者食物的非盈利组织)。每天早晨都会有一大车卖剩的松饼,甜甜圈和面包送到库房。然后到了早上10点的时候会有一辆小货车来收走它们。

 

肉类与海鲜:

最近几个月我们超市正在尝试把过了销售期限的冷冻肉类捐给本地的流动厨房。我想强调这个处理方法还在试验阶段,而且当中出现的一些问题使其中的物流需要重新规划。主要的问题还是安全问题。因为虽然食物到它最后的顾客之前都是冷冻的,但这不意味着这是100%安全的。食物的可追踪性在到达商店之前是最重要的。但要在捐赠过程中保持这种可追踪性在成本上是不可能实行的。

 

奶制品与其他食品:

非常不幸,基于同样的理由,大部分过期的冷藏奶制品都像肉类跟海鲜一样不能拿来捐赠。但好消息是很少的奶制品会被丢掉。更长的货架寿命,更高的需求以及严格的购买过程确保了真正被丢掉的只能是那些被污染的奶制品。

其他食品也会捐给食物银行。我肯定一些更小的超市会直接捐赠。在我们商场,过期食品都会打包并运往分区总部,然后它们会被平均地分发到我们的超市所在的社区中。额外的货运费用可能有点浪费。不过我觉得他们会把这些捐赠记录用作退税用途。

我曾非常有幸可以参与到食物银行的志愿者工作中。他们对食物定有不同的保质期,我想这是由一些相关政府部门制定的。例如(我只是随便举个例子,我记不得准确的日期和数据),罐头豆类可能在过期两年之内还能食用,而盒装意大利面可能在过期6个月内还能食用。我作为志愿者的大部分时间都在堆积如山的罐头之中查看各个保质期,看看哪个还可以吃,哪个不能吃。

所以基本上安全的过期食品都会拿来捐赠,不安全的都会丢掉。不过这绝对是好好想清楚才能决定的。

原文地址:http://www.quora.com/Food-Industry/How-do-supermarkets-dispose-of-expired-food

英文原文:

During my time working in both management and part time capacities at a large supermarket, I can tell you that the evolution of what happens with food past its sell by date has been pretty fascinating.  There is a distinction to note that there are generally several dates associated with food.  There is a sell by date, a best by date and an expiration date.

The short answer to your question is, yes, a lot of food gets thrown out.

The long answer is that most supermarkets do a very good job of minimizing this waste.  Almost all departments, especially ones with perishable items, order to sell out and should come very close to running out before their next order arrives.  Think about that the next time your supermarket is out of fresh wild salmon.  Would they really bring in one extra twenty pound case just to sell you an eight ounce fillet at 8PM the night before fresh fish arrives?  Depends on the market and how aggressively the store wants to capture sales, but mostly, no.

The blanket rule for food past its expiration date is this, if it is unsafe in any way, shape or form, it gets thrown out.  They find a way to use almost everything else.

Produce – Fruits and vegetables don’t come with clear expiration dates.  I will tell you that you will probably never see a banana that’s turning brown on the racks in the produce department.  If some produce isn’t sell-able it usually gets shopped around the store.  A department that handles any type of prepared foods will use these items to make items for hot bars, salad bars, soups, etc.  The same goes for meat and seafood that is past its sell by  date but still within its best by date.

Composting seems like the natural answer for all the other produce that can’t be used.  This issue has been explored and explored at our supermarket and there are two major roadblocks to seeing it in action.

  1. Storage – Most farms are generally further away from urbanized (or suburbanized) stores.  Because produce deteriorates rather quickly farms would have to pick up compostable produce on a daily basis.  Storage at the market is not an option because a large, rotting pile of fruit would attract all sorts of unwanted pests to the store.  Daily pickup is difficult and would the extra monetary and green cost of the freight and labor make up for the produce that would be picked up?  The logistics of the operation are more involved than one might initially think.
  2. Recalls – Unfortunately, recalls due to contaminated fruits and vegetables do happen.  Many of them happen after the produce has been in the store for some time.  If the store composts melons, and those same melons are recalled two days later due to a possible salmonella contamination, then you have potentially deadly compost making its way around your local farms. I am neither an expert in food-borne illness nor composting, so I don’t know if there is any validity to this concern, but I do know it sounds scary.  And that’s enough to put the issue on the back burner.

Bakery – Almost all old baked goods get donated to the local food bank which disperses it to not for profit agencies in the area.  Every morning a big shopping cart of old muffins, donuts and bread makes it way to the back dock and every morning at 10AM a van rolls around and picks it up.

Meat and Seafood - Lately, within the past couple of months, they’ve been testing out freezing meats that have just passed sell by date and donating these to the local soup kitchens.  Again, this is still in its infancy and some issues have arisen that have taken the logistics of this back to the drawing board.  The main issue becomes, and always comes back too, safety.  Just because a product makes it to its final consumer in a frozen state doesn’t mean its 100% safe.  What happened to the product in the mean time?  Traceability is of paramount importance until it gets to the store, but the cost involved with continuing that traceability until it reaches donations is economically unfeasible.

Grocery and Dairy –  Unfortunately, for the same reasons Meat and Seafood can’t be donated, many refrigerated, expired dairy products don’t make the list.  The good news is that very few items get thrown out.  Longer shelf lives, higher demand and tight orders ensures that they only dairy products that really get thrown out are the damaged ones that aren’t safe for consumption anyways.

Grocery items are given to food banks.  I’m sure some smaller markets donate directly.  At our store, everything expired is packed and freighted to headquarters and they distribute the goods evenly among the communities that our supermarket are located in.  The extra freight may seem wasteful but I am assuming they record their donations for tax deduction purposes.

I’ve had the good fortune to spend some time volunteering at food banks.  They have different expiration dates for products which I assume are regulated by some sort of government agency.  For example, (I’m just using an arbitrary example, I don’t remember the exact dates and figures) canned beans may be ok for two years past the date on the can whereas boxed pasta is good for six months past the date on the box.  The majority of my volunteer time at the food banks was spent sorting through the mountains of canned goods and checking expiration dates to see what was still deemed safe and what wasn’t.

So basically, if it’s safe it gets donated.  If it’s not, it gets thrown out.  Definitely some food for thought.

超级市场是如何处理过期食品的?
本作品采用知识共享署名-非商业性使用-禁止演绎进行许可。

 

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