Deli meat dates matter: Subway investigating date coding fraud in China

In an industry with expensive and perishable ingredients, extending the storage life of inputs at food service can make the the difference between making money and going out of business. subway-sandwich
Since most are based on quality attributes, and not safety, best-before dates doesn’t usually grab my attention. It does when it comes to deli meats. Food service date coding rules are based on Listeria monocytogenes growth; a 2003 U.S. FDA and FSIS quantitative risk assessment identified deli meat as the highest risk food category for Lm illnesses and deaths.
Reuters reports that Subway, purveyor of lots of deli meat, is investigating Chinese media reports that some of their staff were altering storage date codes to push profits.
U.S. fast-food chain Subway is investigating media reports in China that workers at an outlet in Beijing doctored food labels and used produce beyond its expiry date, a Shanghai-based spokeswoman for the firm said on Monday.
Chinese media reports that started circulating on Friday said workers at a Beijing outlet for Subway, which operates globally as a franchise business, changed expiry and production dates on meat, drink and vegetable produce to extend their use.
“Our headquarters here is now investigating the matter,” a Subway spokeswoman said. She said the firm had not reached any conclusions. “We want to investigate what caused the labeling issue and whether or not it was the action of a single franchised outlet.”
The Subway spokeswoman said the firm sent teams to inspect its franchises around the country each month and that it gave staff training on food safety and handling produce.
The Beijing food regulator had also launched an investigation, she added.
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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.