The new quality standard yogurt that came into force last week no longer requires manufacturers to indicate on their labels an expiration date. However the industry will keep time because it believes that day is a clear indication of when it is completely safe to consume this product. Dungeon Luis, CEO of the National Federation of Dairy Industries (Phenyl), on behalf of all yogurt manufacturers operating in Spain, said: “We want to give a clear message to consumers who make up when it is completely safe to eat a yoghurt. Not mean it will be bad the next day, but we are not responsible.”
But it’s hard to avoid confusion when messages of the industry and the government are contradictory. Especially since last year the then Minister of Agriculture and Food, Miguel Arias Cañete said he ate yogurt past date. Did you mean that the expiry date is free? How many days can be exceeded without risk of poisoning? Why manufacturers want to keep it after all? And if it is not compulsory, do you mean that never expire yogurt?
” It is complex to talk about a product with expiration as acid pH, which makes it difficult for pathogens are established. Furthermore, pasteurized milk is produced, so that the microbial load is removed and further provides a barrier against pathogens. However, in microbiology zero risk does not exist, so we can not say that it can never produce contamination. Thus, although in general is a very safe product, understand that the obligation to the industry is to provide maximum security to consumers, “says Clara González, director of the Institute of Dairy Asturias of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (IPLA – CSIC).
Few cases of poisoning yogurt is very known, although some have been in recent years outside of Spain, ” usually due to poor maintenance or packaging of the product,” says the director of the IPLA. The most recent occurred last year in Bolivia, where 90 children had to be treated.
The industry has closed ranks on this issue and only speaks through his employer. Already last year, when the government decided to repeal the rule imposing a maximum period of 28 days of consumption making yogurt, producers banded together to protest against changing the expiration date for the preferential consumption, although said that advances in packaging techniques will allow to extend the limit to 35 days. They rejected the argument that the corset Cañete marked in 28 days ” originated much waste of a commodity for food.” According to a study by the ministry, the highest percentage of food wastage is for bread, cereals and bakery (19.3%), followed by fruits and vegetables (16.9%) and milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products (13.3%).
The industry, however, says the percentage of waste is minimal. “We have not done studies in Spain, but in France, a very similar distribution and consumption in the country, the rate represents only 3% of all discarded food, which in total reached 8%,” says Dungeon.
Now, following the adoption of the new standard of quality, producers maintain their position. “There’s no reason to try to deliver a clear message. It is usually true that it’s okay to eat expired yogurt if kept refrigerated and well packaged, can simply lose properties and have an unpleasant taste, but how many days are acceptable? Where do we draw the line? As we can not know that, we maintain that we consider totally secure. And what happens next is the sole responsibility of the consumer, “says Dungeon. Fenil director also says use before date on the yogurt might suggest that the limits set in other products similar as custard and puddings are also preferred consumption, when in fact dates expiration and have more risk.
In general, manufacturers of the countries of southern Europe remain the expiration date to be warmer because there is more risk that the cold chain is lost, while the North have opted for preferential consumption. “In the Spanish market could receive either imported before date, but those produced here will have the Expiry ” says Dungeon.