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Discussion Forums » General Discussion
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Eating out of bins.
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16 Feb 2011, 00:56
Acid Fairy
Post Count: 1849
I read this earlier and found it utterly fascinating.

It is talking about freegans; people who take food out of supermarket bins for themselves. Packaged food, that has hit its use by date.

But sometimes it has repercussions...:

'Sasha Hall must have thought she was in luck when she found a bin outside Tesco overflowing with food. She helped herself to packets of potato waffles, pies and ham a small fraction of the goods that had been abandoned after the store's freezers broke down. But when police arrived at the 21-year-old's home in Essex to arrest her for "theft by finding", those waffles must have looked less lucky.'

This woman now faces court. I find this most ridiculous as most sane people know use by and best before dates are at best an estimate and at worst a downright joke. Our supermarkets throw away obscene amounts of perfectly good food and now a woman who took advantage of this is being prosecuted. Was it a slow crime day or something?

What are your views? I'd just like to mention that according to the comments, both Pret a Manger and M&S apparently deliver leftover food and sandwiches to homeless shelters, which makes me respect those places a dozen times more.
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16 Feb 2011, 01:29
♥ Steph
Post Count: 52
I don't know much about laws regarding this, but the few I know are that garbage cans at the curb and like are free for the taking. I don't know, regardless, I think it's crazy, the store was throwing the stuff out and it would've gone to the dump anyway!
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16 Feb 2011, 08:47
Dreamer ♥
Post Count: 167
Does taking from a bin on the stores site count as theft? I believe so. Does taking from a bin in a public area count as theft? I think not. Yes I know it is so much waste, I work in a hotel and restaurant, I understand this. The amount of food I see thrown away is crazy. I agree people should be able to have the food if they are willing to take the risk that they could get ill from it. However, I believe and as far as my knowledge goes, if the bin is still in the shop grounds, IE a staff only area which most bins are, then yes, they are thieving. I also believe they are possibly trespassing. There is ways and means to go about these kinds of things and if you go the right way, the only thing you risk is getting yourself ill.
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16 Feb 2011, 22:07
Bellatrix Lestrange
Post Count: 234
I think it's disgusting to eat out of the garbage whether the food is packaged or not- and you never know what germs could be on the food you're eating and if it's past its date then that's very risky. You could end up with serious food poisoning if you're not lucky!

If the food is past its sell by date but not its eat by date then it should be sent to the homeless shelter or left outside the shop in a basket for people to help themselves. I've seen Pret A Manger do this- when the cafe closes, they leave all the sandwiches that haven't been purchased outside in a box.

It's good for people that can't afford to buy food- ie; homeless people.
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16 Feb 2011, 23:05
Estella
Post Count: 1779
As the article said, it depends if it's a 'use by' date (which are strict dates you have to observe or you can get ill) or a 'best before' date (which informs you about when the food will be at its best, but it's okay to eat it after).
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17 Feb 2011, 01:59
Acid Fairy
Post Count: 1849
@Bellatrix: Use by dates are just a guideline. I regularly eat food past its use by date. As long as it looks ok, and smells as it should, then it's good to go! The only exception to this is fish and shellfish.
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21 Feb 2011, 21:37
Bellatrix Lestrange
Post Count: 234
Fish & shellfish can be so dangerous if something's not right with them & you eat them |:

Personally, I wouldn't risk eating ANY food that's past its "use by" date.
I don't mind eating food that's past it's sell by date s'long as I eat it on the day I buy it.
But I'm terrified of getting food poisoning so I'm very careful when I get food. xD.
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17 Feb 2011, 02:00
Acid Fairy
Post Count: 1849
@Bellatrix: I totally drank a bottle of Lucozade today that 'went out of date' in November. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it!
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22 Feb 2011, 10:15
Meghans Follie
Post Count: 433
PASS.. *shudders* I cannot imagine how unhealthy this must be
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22 Feb 2011, 13:16
Acid Fairy
Post Count: 1849
Lol why do you think it's unhealthy? The stuff would only have gone out of date on that day, and it's all packaged.
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16 Feb 2011, 01:56
~Aiure
Post Count: 118
I would assume the main reason for making it illegal would be to simply cover the company's own ass. That way no one could pick up discarded "expired" food found on a company's property and then turn around and try to sue the company because they became ill. I've heard of some companies threatening legal action against homeless people for trying to "steal" their wasted product. It's ridiculous.

I often get expired food from the chocolate place next door - usually caramel apples and, most recently, amazing chocolate covered strawberries - it's given to me simply because the store's owner doesn't want to waste the food. Some of the places in the mall's food court will give away food to mall staff and friends at the end of the day, but that's all completely off the books to avoid any legal issues.

It seems to be one of those touchy issues that everyone thinks is an awesome idea, but no one really ever talks about for fear of being promptly smited by some stupid whistleblower.
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16 Feb 2011, 02:22
Acid Fairy
Post Count: 1849
Well see I thought about this, and at the link in the comments section someone actually said what if you bought some salmon, left it out for a few days, ate it and got ill? You wouldn't have any grounds to sue the company. I think the same rule would apply here; the date on the packet is there, it's up to the individual to decide if they want to go ahead and eat it.

I think the more convincing argument for why companies don't like it is because people eating their discarded food is one less paying customer through the door. Which makes me think, REDUCE these items with big warning signs saying 'We are not responsible for any ill effects that may occur due to eating food past its use by date'. Everyone wins!

I don't even know if the food they throw out has even hit its use by date, it may just have hit its sell by date or best before date, which is ridiculous!
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16 Feb 2011, 02:53
.Blue Bella.
Post Count: 743
Ooooh there was a Wife Swap episode with a family of freegans!

Personally... not something you'd find me doing, rifling around in a bin for food. Packaged or not. There IS a lot of waste though.
I do agree with the writers views that if it has been discarded is should not be considered theft. By discarding it, the shop is giving up ownership.
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16 Feb 2011, 02:55
Ashalicious
Post Count: 90
I know of one grocery store chain where I live that marks food down when it's near or at the day of expiration, usually baked goods and packaged goods. It's sad this is a crime, the food was left to trash anyway. We waste so much food, why not let people take it? I understand they are money hungry companies but a lot of people wouldn't buy that stuff normally or can't afford to. I just think it's sad it's all wasted like that. I don't think there should be a law against taking expired food from a stores outside trash. My father had a girlfriend once that loved to go "dumpster diving" as it's called here. She would go behind bakeries and some big stores and find perfectly fine food for free.
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16 Feb 2011, 02:56
love♥nik
Post Count: 1010
In the States if you leave the garbage out on the curb, it's public property. You can't sue someone for scrounging through public property. Now that is for ppl who have trash cans and put them on the side of the road for the dumpster guys to come pick them up. I'm not quite sure about a company's trash can but I would figure that it's public property too.

Either way, that's fucked up.
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16 Feb 2011, 06:17
mo0se
Post Count: 72
I know the supermarket chain I work for over here stops people doing that, mainly because if the product has our label on it (fresh bread for example) and the person who eats it gets sick and sues us, we have no leg to stand on really, the law does not cover us but covers the consumer. Good thing is they've changed the laws slightly in the past couple of years, so we can actually give away wasted food to not for profit organisations. I know a couple of stores can also donate fresh meats and vegies that expire on the day to soup kitchens, and all our canned stock goes to our warehouse to be taken to charities. Also, if we get caught selling anything past it's use by date we get huge fines from the health department, best before dates they're a bit more lenient because it's just a suggested date.
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16 Feb 2011, 06:59
& skull.
Post Count: 1701
it's sad they can't just donate that food, but i can understand they don't want dumpster divers getting sick and suing them.
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16 Feb 2011, 11:07
Estella
Post Count: 1779
I wonder if that is the reason though. That was my initial thought, but then it's also illegal to take stuff from a tip (which tends not to be foodstuff). And I'm pretty sure you couldn't sue a store for food that you'd taken from a bin rather than bought (at least in the UK - I know some strange suings happen in the US!).
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16 Feb 2011, 11:07
Estella
Post Count: 1779
Er, that was a reply to Ev, but the forum order seems not to be working!
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16 Feb 2011, 13:30
& skull.
Post Count: 1701
ha, i got the reply. the forum ordering always confuses me.

yes i'd dare say i'd be more worried as a us company than a uk company. us people can be sue happy.
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16 Feb 2011, 10:43
K♥Blah
Post Count: 65
I've heard about this stuff going on a lot and like Blue Bella said, there was a wifeswap episode where one family were freegans. Personally - I probably wouldn't attempt it, but I think that's because I haven't grown up in a freegan family. It was like when I went Vegetarian and then went Vegan, it's fun and sustainable for some - but because I grew up in a family full of meateaters and it was the way I was raised - I soon found myself back on dairy and meat. I mean kudos to those who do manage to convert to such diets and maintain it - but I couldn't!! Back on topic Kerri - I actually think there is a lot of logic to the freegan lifestyle. I mean, a lot of shops do throw out a great deal of perfectly good food, there can be huge amounts of wastage that are just thrown out the back free for the taking pretty much. I cringe at the thought of take fresh fruit and vegetables that are out of packaging. But everything else that is within a packaging, tin, box etc - then why not? Somethings are only a day or two over their used by date and - with the acception of meat - probably wouldn't be that hazzardous.

I know a lot of shops in my state, actually a few states I've lived in have done it - but I know like bakeries, Donut King, A LOT of the sushi shops, the sandwich shops etc - once it gets to a certain time, they dramatically cut the cost. Donut King I noticed a few weeks ago - because they have SO MANY Donuts just sitting there at 5pm - they chuck them all into paper bags and sell them off at like $1 a bag. If I wasn't on a bit of a health kick right now - I totally would have grabbed them.

I mean sorry to the freegans for raining on their parade - but for supermarkets, they should also consider reducing the prices of things on their expiry date or something instead of creating so much wastage. OR EVEN BETTER - donate (hahaha I totally typing donut and then deleted it) all the perfectly good food to charity instead of just wasting it.

I think I went from freegan lifestyles onto supermarket wastage...sorry for being slightly off topic.

I don't think these people should get in trouble for taking what is simply being thrown out. Maybe there should be some disclaimer in place so that freegans understand they take food at their own risk and the shop has no liability or something. But what harm are they doing if the food is just going to rott in some dump site otherwise?
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16 Feb 2011, 10:59
Estella
Post Count: 1779
Reminds me of when I worked in a sandwich bar in Canada, and at the end of the week, huge bags of food were thrown out. I said what awful waste that was, and asked if I could take some of it home for myself. I was told that was against the rules and I was not allowed to do this. Obviously the rules are there for a reason, but I wish there were also some rules about minimising waste. Maybe a law that makes it compulsory to donate a portion of leftover food to homeless shelters or something. Of course this would involve being careful to observe the difference between 'use by' and 'best before', but considering shops are legally allowed to sell food that's passed its 'best before' date, so long as they inform the customer, then I don't think this need be a problem.

Personally, living on a tight budget, I like to go to Asda in the evening, when food that is about to go out-of-date is greatly reduced in price. I stock up on whatever is on bargain price and then put it in my freezer. I am aware that after a certain time in the evening, if no one has bought that food, then it will either be bought by staff for an even cheaper price or it will be chucked out.
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16 Feb 2011, 22:38
Aubrey;
Post Count: 377
@la rana -- I think it depends on where you work. My mother worked at a tourist shop for a while, and they would let her take outdated candy home.
Meanwhile, at the grocery store, they toss everything out. For example, if a customer wants something from the salad bar, and they serve it out, but it turns out that they can't pay - that has to be thrown out. No one can keep it, even if it's a perfectly good salad that hasn't been touched.
The only exception is when someone orders a cake and never comes to pick it up (or if the bakery dept screws up whatever they were supposed to write on it, or whatever) -- then they bring it up to the break room and we can eat it...


Anyway that was a bit off topic!
I do think that there are rules about taking things from the trash? I know it's food, but if it were, say, bills or mail that had gotten thrown away, and someone was taking those, isn't there a rule or law against that? Maybe not... :-/
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16 Feb 2011, 23:03
Estella
Post Count: 1779
Interesting. Maybe the tourist shop was breaking the law, because it was a small shop and not likely to be checked up on. Or maybe there are different rules for different types of shop.
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16 Feb 2011, 23:57
mo0se
Post Count: 72
@aubrey The reason you can't resell returned salads etc is due to the risk it has been tampered with in some way, or if it's a refridgerated product you can't prove how long it's been out of refridgeration. It's a shame, i know a lot of store managers hate the waste but they'd rather throw stock out than get sued or fined or worse, kill someone.
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