Is it bad manners to pick up longer expiry date product from the shelf?

Come on, I know some of you have done it!
Personally I have, and seen a lot of people doing it as well.
I was buying a milk from Woolies and witnessed that one of the person was reaching her hand
to pick up the one that had longer expiry date that was behind the "shorter" expiry date ones.
Although I don't think it's illegal or anything,
I just want to know what do you guys think about it.

Do you think it's bad manners to pick up the items that are behind the shelf, which has a longer expiry date?

Poll Options

  • 8
    Yes, it is bad manners. You should not do that!
  • 838
    No, it is not bad manners. I do that all the time!
  • 9
    It depends on your consciousness. If you feel bad about it, then don't do it!


  • +41

    I was at Coles the other day and wanted to buy a dip from the fridge section, all of the ones right at the front had an expiry date of 3 days from that day.I like to keep a dip in the fridge for a week or more and enjoy it a little bit at a time.

    First thing I did was raid the shelf and look for the fresh stock at the back. Absolutely not bad manners, why buy something that is going to expire before you want to use it if you have the option of buying something that will suit your needs? It's your money after all, and if the supermarkets put the fresh stock on the shelf then it's free for anyone to buy regardless of if it's at the front or you have to go digging for it. If they cared that much they wouldn't stock the shelves with fresh product at the back, they'd wait until they had sold the expiring stuff first, or they'd discount it and/or move it to another 'clearance' section.

    If I was having a party and planned to consume it all within the expiry date I would always buy whatever is at the front, but it always depends on the product, how long I want it to last and what options are available on the shelf.

    I see no problem with this whatsoever.

    • +24

      If I was having a party and planned to consume it all within the expiry date I would always buy whatever is at the front,

      I wouldn't. I'd still buy the freshest product I could find, because… freshness!

      If the shorter life products were marked down however, that's a different story.

      • +2

        I'd still buy the freshest product I could find, because… freshness!

        That's the essence of it.

        There's a scene in Clerks mentions this exact phenomenon.

    • Yes that right.

    • Coles does this all the time. The take it right up to the day, even with dairy stuff that clearly is not going to be usable all on the day. I always go for longer expiry unless I know for sure I'll be using it inside the timeframe. I forgot to check, once, when I bought pouring cream (which is what I have in my coffee now) and it expired that same day. Not only that, because I buy two cartons at a time, and they last 3-4 days, I ended up having to throw out the remainder. No refunds available for idiots who don't check. Caught once, never again.

      • Surely if you went back to Coles the same day or the day after with your dated receipt and dated product and complained that "I only bought this yesterday!" they would give you a refund.

        I find it hard to believe they would deny you.

        • No, they didnt deny me, I just figured it might be a too bad situation. Anyway, I'm less concerned about that, I guess, than never doing it again.

  • +48

    I don't think it is bad manners. It's like normal shopping where you pick loose vegetables or fruits. You would pick the better ones, wouldn't you? I do that with fruit/veges, bread, milk, mobile sim cards.. Canned food, not so much.

    • +11

      I make sure my canned foods don't have dents in. There was a story going around a decade or two ago where the dents can cause rust build up over time. If I do pick up dented cans, I'd make sure I consume them first.

      • +5

        Adman Sandler referenced that in Big Daddy. He taught his foster kid to throw the cans on the ground to dent them so they got them cheaper.

      • +6

        When cans were first used, it was just tin plate on the inside of a steel can to stop rust. If the can was dented, the tin would crack and flake, and the food contact the steel. This was a Bad Thing[tm], especially for acid foods such as tomatoes.
        For some decades now there has also been a polymer lining over the tin, and the problem is far less prevalent, but I'd still treat dented cans with suspicion. "Domed" cans, where the ends have started bulging should be gather in one place, and used a free donation for the last person who was so short, they had to rip you off….

      • +1

        Botulism is what happens

      • +2

        Yeah the inside of the tin is toxic, but they have a film to protect the food inside from it. When a can is dented the film can be broken so toxins leak into the food.

    • +6

      Don't get bloated cans too, sometimes caused by anaerobic bacteria producing gasses in the can.

      • +1

        Botulism happens, that's the one where all your muscles contracts at once and you get all snappy snappy in your bones and body

        • +1

          Botulism is actually weakening of the muscles, hence why people have it injected to forehead and such to reduce lines.
          I think your thinking of tetanus which is typically caused by cuts from rusty steel which causes muscle spasms that can break bones.

        • +2

          Bloated Cans = Botulism = Cheap Botox

        • @KobuTronand: true ozbargaining power…

        • @Bokoshi: sorry you are correct

        • Something something botulism……something something honey…….

  • +2

    Considering all the old stuff on our supermarket shelves I think it is just smarter & commonsence to buy the freshest available… push aside all that about-to-expire stuff!!

  • +8

    I do this all the time, I think most people do?

    Supermarkets have mechanisms to clear stock that is near best-before date if they really want- it is called mark downs :-)

  • +9

    Nearly everyone does it! It's common sense to get the one that will last the longest.

    If it expires soon and is on sale, I'll buy it. But if it's the same price I'll get the longest expiry I can.

  • +46

    Its very bad manners if you take it from someone else's trolley.

    • +11

      But it isn't stealing ;-)

      • +7

        Only after they pay for it

  • +20

    Leave it for the those waiting for it to be discounted! =D

    • +9

      $0.70 for a Dozen Cinnamon Donuts!

    • Damn, I accidentally neg-d you and I cant seem to undo it. Apologies (how could any true OzBarginer be against this!)

      • +1

        haha, that's okay, it's a sign that I'm actually contributing to forums if I'm accidentally negged! ;)

  • +6

    I see flavoured milk being reduced up to 75% all the time with like two days expiry left.
    I buy 2L and finish it that evening. I feel guilty for all the wrong reasons.
    If you want fresh milk, bread etc., always pick the longest expiry if it's the same price, just in case you can't finish it.

    • +2

      At Coles right?

      Most Woolieses around me seem like they'd prefer to throw away stock than mark it down by more than 40–60 %.

      • +1

        Complete opposite where I live. Meat/dairy/bakery is regularly 60% off at Woolies, while Coles might have the odd few items at 20% off. Since I can walk to the shops, I often buy whatever is marked down for that night's dinner, so Woolies it is.

        • +1

          It seems to be based off of who is running the show. i have travelled and lived in several states in the last few years, and some place will have markdowns every day. On things like Christmas eve and before public holidays where they are closed, some will mark down EVERYTHING and you can get a lot of good deals for the last couple of hours of trading. 4$ cook chickens and what not, 0.25$ loafs of bread, etc. And some places you can walk in 5 minutes before close on the same kind of days and everything is full price. There can be 10 cooked chickens and 40 loaves of bread, but they're still asking 12$ or whatever at close lol.

          I've noticed the busier the area the less likely they are to markdown…

        • Complete opposite where I live.

          Not exactly. My local Woolieses mark down by up to 60 % too. But my local Coleses mark down by up to 97 %!

          e.g. $3 original price milk marked down to $0.10

      • My local Woolies has a section in the fridge for 'Reduced to clear' which is pretty much always stocked with things that are about to expire, at 40-60% mark down. Often things from the deli counter end up there e.g. tubs of salads

    • +1

      Hope your not lactose intolerant

    • +1

      Cause it is flavoured milk it lasts longer and you can't taste the sour over the sweetness haha…

  • +12

    Conversely, if I'm taking a dip to a friends house, and it will be used that night, I don't even bother looking at the expiry date.

    • +2

      Ditto - I only check/care for expiry dates if it's a product I know I won't use up quickly, and thus need it to last and be as fresh for as long as possible.

      Fresh produce like cherry tomatoes, mixed sprouts, baby rocket/spinach leaves, etc which I routinely buy - I always take the one with the longest expiry because I don't use them all in one go, and the longer they last, the better. The difference in dates can be up to a week on the shelf sometimes.

      • +1

        I definitely check it when they have 2-for-1 deals on. The first one I might open that night, the reason I head to say a dip section is because I'm craving it, but I forget about the 2nd dip till closer to the expiry date!

    • +8

      what if you don't look and the product is already out of date…?

      I always check the expiry. what ever it is.

      • +3

        This, I've been stung before for not looking so I always check before buying.

    • I trust no one. I check the expiry date on everything I buy.

      EDIT: As someone before me has already said. +1 I guess..

  • +14

    I never ever grab anything that is at the front of the shelf, not just because I want later expiry. This rule applies to chips and biscuits too…. They're the packs that people have dropped on floor or what not and put back on shelf. I don't want cracked biscuits or little chip pieces, I pay good money for my food!

    • +8

      Why do people say they pay "good" money for x, y or z. All money is "good" money. I certainly have never seen any bad money.

      • +2

        Maybe it means its good as opposed to counterfeit money?

      • "good" probably refers to after tax dollars.

      • +11

        I think "good" in reference to the "money" is a relative term comparing it the product purchased. So "good money" denotes that the purchaser doesn't derive much excess utility from the sale and therefore it is important for them to procure the highest quality product.

        • +3

          I think you've just totally discombobulated him.

        • +2

          this is why I love ozbargain. these kinds of comments just crack me up

      • Maybe he's 'clueless' about good and bad money.

    • +4

      I grab my fruit and vege (other products too but mainly these) from as high up and as far back as I conveniently can. This started after I noticed some children pick up items and put them in their mouth and then get told by parents to return them to the shelf. I rarely see it happen, but I have a semi-ocd and it's scarred me forever.

      • +4

        And this is one of the reasons why you should wash fruit before eating it and routinely wash your hands.

      • +1

        I also do the same thing with fruit and vegies - high up and far back. My OCD is the "fruit fondlers" who seem to have to feel every piece of fruit in the whole shop. The worst of the lot are those who stick their fingernails in to check if the fruit is fresh or not. It is horrible to get home and find fingernail marks in apples and pears.

        • The worst of the lot are those who stick their fingernails in to check if the fruit is fresh or not.

          F those selfish prats. they seriously need a fingernail to their eyeball

  • As long as it has a reasonable expiry date, unless it's reduced.

    On a side note, I saw a lady cutting the stem off a piece of Broccoli last week.

    • +5

      that is the best bit!

    • With what?

      • I think they just snap the stems off with their fingers.

        • +8

          Yet I still can't shake the image of little old ladies now carrying pocket knives around for Broccoli related crimes

        • @lithius:
          Yes she had her own knife. ;-)
          At least she didn't use one they had on the shelf, I guess. ;-)

        • +1

          @lithius: i once gave my mum a small multitool with a blade. she used to use the little blade to cut the stems off broccoli. until one day that blade met its broccoli match and snapped lol.

    • +1

      My wife does that too, and pulls the stalks off the mushrooms if they're large ones.

      • +3

        But mushy stalks have the most flavour! :O

    • +3

      People who do that miss out the crunchy part of broccoli which is, in my opinion, much better than the florets. I cook my own meals and I try to make less waste as possible.

    • +31

      I peel the bananas before I bag them. No way I'm gonna pay for useless skin, that's like half the total weight of an unpeeled banana!


      • +6

        Step 1 buy watermelon when on $1/kg.
        Step 2 hide expensive fruit inside watermelon.
        Step 3 when questioned just tell them that you were trying to save space inside your trolley.

        • or just don't pay for it at all. hell, why not mug people at knife point? who cares!

    • If they didn't want people to do that, they shouldn't sell them by weight! ;)

  • +8

    For refrigerated items, the ones at the back can be colder too, especially if it's one of those open fridges. So I will usually grab one from the back if I want to eat/drink it straight away. I'm mainly thinking of flavoured milk here, the ones at the front are sometimes not quite cold enough.

    • Can confirm. Worked at cold section at WW. Front items were around 10C usually, with only the ultra-packed stuff near back at/below the recommended 4C.

      Frozen food same deal - often I'd see stuff at 5C when it was supposed to be -20C ….

  • No, as long as you're not taking too long and blocking other people who want the same item.

  • +3

    absolutely not, my main aim is to feed my family the highest quality food I can source on my income. I always pick longer dated items on everything except brie and camerbert.

  • +4

    It's not as if there aren't plenty of people who either don't give a damn, or else consume milk so fast that dates have little or no relevance (e.g. my friend with the 3 kids). It's all part of the circle of (shelf) life.

    • +1

      Or if they're like my co-worker who continues drinking milk up to around 5 days past the labelled expiry date, going by sniff test.

  • +2

    We always get the milk with the longest dates, milk at the front hasnt got long (most of the time) and is warmer = going off quicker.

  • +4

    I do this with literally everything. I only do it with meat for shelf life, everything else is specifically because I want it as fresh as possible even if I'm going to eat it that day. I feel bad sometimes because I literally have to unpack part of a shelf to get to the back.

    What surprises me is sometimes the stuff at the back is actually older, someone is clearly not doing their job correctly :)

  • +1

    Simple offer and acceptance.

  • +3

    It's fine, plus, if everyone ignores the short dated products they then get discounted multiple times and you can pick up more bargains.

  • +1

    Only if its at a friends or relatives house. If it someones house you dont like, or a supermarket its all good

  • +16

    On the other hand - is it bad manners for supermarkets to expect you to pay full price for a product with a shorter expiry date than shoppers would ordinarily expect that product to have?

    If the product is full price, I will always get the one with the longest expiry sitting in the fridge. If you want me to take the one that expires sooner, give me a discount to do so. It's as simple as that.

    Supermarkets aren't your friends.

    • Supermarkets still need to turn a profit. Selling below cost (discounting) or spoilage means they need to raise the normal price for everyone to cover these losses.

      Don't get me wrong, wholesale food is cheap. When you start adding up all the expenses, like staff and power, your margins get thin.

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