Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trust in Food.

Yesterday I ran out to the local ACME to take advantage of a few choice sales. While I was there, I picked up two items I've been interested in food testing: nectarines and chocolate eclairs.
Desserts are hard for me. I never order one in a restaurant, but I've found that supermarkets, with the ingredients used by the bakery printed right on the label, tend to bring me good luck. Yesterday afternoon, I went to take the eclairs out of the fridge. I had purchased them pre-packaged by the bakery, so I could read the ingredients and determine the proper number of Lactaid pills. I stopped cold when I saw what appeared to be one label over the other on the package. When I peeled up the top label, with an expiration date of August 20th, underneath was a label with the date August 16th. I checked the calendar, to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. It was August 17th. I was really, really upset.

This morning I drove to ACME right after I took my shower b/c I wanted this out of the way. I asked to speak to a store manager, and showed her what I had found. She was appalled (good start!). Then she summoned the bakery via the intercom, and asked someone to come to the front of the store. Except - when the woman arrived - it was grandma. Not my grandma, mind you, but everybody's grandma. How am I supposed to argue with grandma?

Grandma took a look at the package and stated that the price should've been lower because it was past its date (OH BROTHER - food poisoning, on sale!). The store manager just shook her head and very calmly explained, "No. This is expired. We don't repackage expired products, we get rid of them." "Right," grandma said, "but what I'm saying is that one of the kids accidentally put a label over this one instead of pulling it to be dumped. Without being able to see the correct date, this never would've been pulled." Then she turns to me, patted me on the arm and said, "Am I explaining this correctly so that you understand what I'm saying, honey?" (OY).
I looked at grandma and very, very calmly said "Let me see if I understand this. You expect me to believe that this was a mistake, not some lazy kid who forgot to take the expired label off first before placing a later one on it? That the other packages of eclairs on sale aren't past their expiration date and that's why they were placed on sale? I don't think so. I also don't think I'll be purchasing a baked good at this store again." And then I turned to the manager and asked for my money back. She handed it to me with a sincere apology.
Now, you might think I was being too tough on grandma, but you need to understand this from a food allergy perspective. Say I had done that food test yesterday, and had gotten violently ill. I never would've known the product was expired, and I would've assumed that there was something in the eclair to which I was allergic, or it was too rich for me, etc. I never would've eaten one again, and I never would've known why.

The ONLY thing I need in terms of food is to be able to trust the places in which I buy the food I eat, and the restaurants in which I dine. What ACME did, honest mistake or not (methinks not based on Grandma's first response - it's expired, let's discount it more!), makes me very, very nervous.

So, I food-tested the nectarine yesterday. That did NOT go well. Good grief.
Today will be a better day,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sorry for the impromptu hiatus, folks. Believe it or not, its been a pretty busy summer!

Two happy food tests to report:
A bosc pear. I will be doing the second part of this food test today. (for some reason, I often find that I need to eat things more than once to get a real result.)
Chicken Marsala. I kid you not. One of my goals this year is to find more "safe" dishes at restaurants, so NAH has kindly agreed to bring in some take-out. Had this one in two parts, and not even a blip in my stomach! Now to try it from other restaurants...

One sad food test:
Plum. Not so much this year. Ah well, I can live with it...

One fun item to report? I received what I think is one of the neatest presents ever from a good friend (thank you K!). I get to create my own cookbook, complete with photos, on a website titled aptly, "Create My Cookbook." I'm toying with titles. Perhaps something along the lines of "101 ways not to kill the Allergic Diner?" Her rationale was that I work so hard to tweak conventional recipes in order to be able to eat them, why not put them all in one place (and she's never even seen the multiple shelves that host my cookbook collection!)? I cannot wait to try this and I promise to blog about the experience!

Off to enjoy the rest of my summer,
Your Allergic Diner