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Food Safety

'Unrealistic' use-by dates displayed by a quarter of butchers

Almost a quarter of butchers have been found to provide use-by date that are unrealistically long or have no basis.

ALMOST A QUARTER of butchers in Ireland have provided a use-by date that was unrealistically long or had no basis, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The FSAI said that 23 per cent of chicken fillets transported to butchers in gas-flushed packaging, and then sold loose to consumers, were displayed with a use-by date that was unrealistically long for the product to remain unspoiled in the consumer’s fridge.

Of the sample group, 8 per cent of butchers had provided no use-by date at all – which is against the law.

However, 92 per cent of butchers had adhered to FSAI  guidelines and stored chicken fillets at the recommended temperature of 5oC or cooler.

Prof Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the FSAI said that while the majority of butcher had followed guidelines, the current situation was “unacceptable”. He added:

Butchers should adhere to the FSAI guidance on applying use-by dates, unless there are clear instructions provided by the manufacturer… The onus is on butchers to adhere to best practice guidelines with respect to the opening of gas flushed bulk packs, storage temperatures and applying use-by dates.

The authority said that there was a strong possibility that some of the chicken fillets in question would show signs of physical spoilage – such as smell, taste or appearance – after being stored in a consumer’s fridge.

Reilly appealed to butchers to follow FSAI guidelines and urged consumers not to accept poor quality meat. He said ” Consumers should feel 100% assured that the chicken fillets they are buying are of the highest quality and that the use-by dates on the food label are correct… If consumers have concerns about the freshness of their chicken fillets when they come to use them, they should take it up with the butcher and complain.”

The survey included 138 samples from stand-alone butcher shops or butcher counter in supermarkets.