When it comes to the secondary food market in the United States, it is simple to keep a low profile since few people are curious about what happens to food after its expiry date has passed at the nation’s most prominent grocery chains.
Food that has gone beyond its expiration date is often repurposed by being reprocessed, packed, and relabeled before being offered for sale to institutions, bargain merchants, and restaurants.
Food liquidators are able to underbid their rivals and win contracts almost every time since there are few restrictions in place governing the use of repurposed food and the buying criteria of institutions are often quiet. When it comes to the secondary food market, you get what you pay for, and the idiom “garbage in, trash out” has never been more applicable than it is right now.
Regardless of the amount of hot sauce or gravy that is used as a cover-up, damaged food items are not safe for human consumption and may induce foodborne disease. In this place, ignorance is definitely not bliss.
According to the most recent public report that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made available on its website, the organization estimates that every year, approximately 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) become ill, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 people pass away as a result of foodborne diseases. Nevertheless, “recent” is a misnomer in this context since the information from the CDC is embarrassingly out of date by more than 10 years. The document was published in January 2011.
It is highly likely that there was undercounting in 2011, particularly in institutional settings, considering that food poisoning is an embarrassing indicator that reveals in its gory horror the systemic corruption of what turns out to be an unregulated food market. Considering all of this, it is highly probable that there was undercounting in 2011. In addition, it is quite probable that the situation would be considerably direr in 2022.
When reports from oversight agencies are discontinued, it is very evident that this is due to the fact that industry data and agency performance indicators do not appear favorable. At the federal level, cover-ups are often carried out via the appointment of inept or industry-compromised agency leaders, as well as by the defunding of important reporting departments and the reduction in the number of analytic staff jobs and field inspectors.
Both educational institutions and correctional facilities have been subjected to unassisted research for the presence of epidemics of foodborne illnesses. Although these studies and publications are likewise out of date, the superficial analysis that they provide is still relevant today. The conventional wisdom holds that food handlers are to blame for outbreaks of foodborne illness because they failed to adhere to the protocols for cleanliness established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and failed to maintain the appropriate temperatures for the storage and service of food.
There are no studies that detail the life-threatening risks posed by the secondary food market, which is not to say that the standards established by the USDA are in any way lacking. In addition, in contrast to the major food market, these repackaging businesses are not subject to inspection, despite the fact that they incorrectly claim that they are USDA or FDA-certified.
According to a media spokeswoman for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “the FDA does not monitor meat and poultry; rather, it is exclusively responsible for dairy products.” And that “food safety is the only thing that is controlled, not expiry dates.”
This is a sword with two edges, so to speak. On the one hand, food that has become rancid, polluted, or poisonous although still within its expiry date is without a doubt unsuitable for ingestion by humans. On the other hand, expiry dates are essential since customers, buying agents, and others who work with food are unable to determine the quality of the food due to the fact that it is packaged, colored, and processed.
It is impossible to guarantee consumer health and safety when the use-by date of a food product is masked via repackaging and labeling changes. The remarketing of food that has beyond its expiration date is akin to operating a clandestine market in full daylight.