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Shopper gets hot under collar finding spicey Asda ready-meal is 2 years old

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 May 2014

Celia and the two-year-old Asda ready meal

Celia and the two-year-old Asda ready meal

Archant

Grandmother Celia Loadat likes her meat and veg nice’n’spicey—but not two years out of date when she picks it up from the supermarket freezer.

Bar code and shopping bill showing when Celia's ready-meal was boughtBar code and shopping bill showing when Celia's ready-meal was bought

That’s exactly what she found when she got home from her local Asda store on the Isle of Dogs.

The frozen Nice’n’Spicey brand ready-meal of Africa Red Stew chicken, rice and mixed vegetables was dated “best before November 4, 2012” on the packet.

“I went to put it away and thought—flaming heck,” she told the East London Advertiser.

“Thank goodness I didn’t eat it or, worse, feed it to my grandchildren.

“I cook a quick-meal option for my two grandsons who could have eaten it.”

The 49-year-old voluntary worker took the ready-meal back to the store in East Ferry Road—but refused a £25 compensation offer.

“I would like to inform anyone who shops at the store to seriously check all their food,” Celia insisted.

“I was offered a goodwill gesture which I declined. My concern was that the public needs to be aware that they should thoroughly check dates on their foods when buying from this store.”

Celia, who lives in Yabsley Street just a shopping-trolley push from the supermarket, took her ready-meal to Tower Hamlets environment department. A council inspector later made a random check of the store’s frozen food section.

A Town Hall spokesman confirmed: “We visited the store on May 9 after receiving a customer complaint.

“Frozen foods can be used beyond their ‘best before’ date, as in this case. It’s highly unlikely there would be any bacteria as it would have been cooked to at least 75 degrees Celsius during manufacturing, cooled quickly, then frozen. There shouldn’t be any food poisoning risk if the customer follows the guidance on reheating.”

The store will continue getting regular, unannounced food hygiene inspections as part of the council’s ongoing programme.

An Asda statement admitted the Environmental Health Office “did come into store on the back of a customer complaint” and inspected the freezers—but found no other out-of-date goods.

The ready-meal had a “best before” date which meant it should have been consumed before November 4, 2012, “to get maximum quality and flavour.”

But it was not a “use by” date, the company said, which is usually found on perishables like milk or cheese which can be harmful if consumed after the limit.

There is a difference between “best before” and “use by” dates, the Food Standards Agency points out.

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