Foods that are decades past their expiry dates are too common in Asia

Foods that are decades past their expiry dates are too common

Nury Vittachi, Bangkok | Opinion | Sun, July 14 2013, 11:05 AM

When I heard last week that inspectors had found a shop selling food that was 43 years past its expiry date, I thought, wow, they go to the same supermarket I do.
I’ve seen food items there that aren’t just dried out, but are actually fossilizing. I sometimes visit just to show my children how mineralization works: “See how microstructural features are retained, so that people in 10 million years can trace the early evolution of the MSG pie?” Anyway, in my experience you’re fine as long as you stick to foods from the Holocene and Pleistocene eras: Avoid anything pre-Mesozoic. Later, I found the actual Xinhua report about the expired food. The shop was in the Guangxi region of China. But this problem happens all over Asia. A reader once sent me a package of food he bought from the most expensive delicatessen in Hong Kong. Under the expiry date sticker was another one. And another one beneath that. And another one beneath that, etc. It was like one of those archeological digs where you peel away one geological era at a time. There were six layers. Clearly the shop manager saw expiry dates as miniature creative writing projects. Given the thousands of items in the shop, he was probably Hong Kong’s most prolific author.

Recently in Madras, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology announced a product that could do away with expiry dates completely, I read in the Deccan Chronicle. Anshika Agarwal’s food packaging changes color if the contents are bad. As the father of two teenage girls, I think they should make clothes out of this and force boys to wear them.

But perhaps the most shocking “bad product” story of recent days was the “exploding breasts” tale. A Beijing woman lay on her front for four hours playing an addictive mobile phone game (I bet it was Candy Crush), causing her breast implants to burst, the Shanghaiist reported.

A doctor later told the woman that she had “substandard breasts”, something I would never say to any woman, Barbie doll, or supermarket chicken even.

Yet deep down I am always secretly happy to read about retail products being exposed as rubbish. This is because I am a shopping hater, or “male”. Fate has played a cruel and vicious trick on me, placing me in a family with addicted three Olympic-class shoppers, or “females”.

Scientists say that this is evolutionary, with men being hunters and females being gatherers. Caveman: “Cook this sabre tooth tiger leg for my dinner.” Cavewoman: “Cook it yourself; me and the girls are off collecting shells to make primitive necklaces.”

Last week someone put a video on the Chinese copy of YouTube showing a tour guide “encouraging” tourists to shop. After driving them to a remote shopping mall, he ordered them to spend money on overpriced rubbish, waving a knife and saying: “I will kill you.” I guess this is what they mean by “hard sell”.

Now I need to stop writing this and go eat. Anyone want to share a semi-fossilized MSG pie from my local food shop? We just need to get to it before the archeologists do.

The writer is a columnist and journalist.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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