What Date Labels On Food Can, And Can’t, Tell You

Rude Food: raise a toast

“Business can appreciate the sheer size of the market, and it has largely been neglected,” said Imran Kausar, a former doctor who founded the Halal Food Festival. Strict guidelines Translated as “permissible” or “lawful,” halal food is cuisine prepared according to Islamic guidelines. These state that the animal faces no undue stress up until the point of slaughter, which must be conducted by a Muslim. A sharp knife is used to cut the animal’s throat, after which the blood is drained. According to Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail, the existence of the Halal Food Festival suggests the produce is becoming more mainstream, with brands and retailers looking to boost their halal offerings. Among the major retailers, Tesco and Asda are ahead of the curve when it came to halal food, Roberts said. These supermarkets offer a range of halal products, and even have halal butcher counters in some stores, operated by third parties. Tapping the market Well-known food brands including Kellogg’s, Kingsmill, Hellmans, Krispy Kreme and McCain have also tapped the sector, all certifying halal products under the U.K.’s Halal Food Authority (HFA). The market is already significant in Britain, with the Halal Monitoring Committee putting its value at between 4.2 billion-5 billion in the U.K. alone. This gives it a share of around 5 percent of the U.K.’s total agricultural food market, which the U.K. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs valued at 96.1 billion in 2011. But the sector in Britain could be about to shift,according to Saqib Mohammed, the acting chief executive of the HFA. “The halal meat market might reach its super saturation level within very few years,” he told CNBC. Instead, Mohammed expects more opportunities in halal food additives and ingredients, animal feed, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

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(I will now pause, so that outraged sommeliers can take to Twitter to tell us what geniuses they are and what a fool I am.) The consequence is that the food served at these dinners is usually rubbish. At one such dinner, a famous Indian chef tried to pair a First Growth Bordeaux with chili. At another, for Pichon Longueville, the food was so bad that we all sent it back. Great wine usually does not need great food. The quality of the wine should be enough for the dinner to be a success. On the other hand, when chefs make dishes that actively interfere with our enjoyment of the worlds finest wines, it can be annoying. Because some top winemakers still hope that India will go the China way, they continue to visit our country regularly and bring bottles of their wines for us to enjoy. In recent years, Ive been to dinners where such great wines as Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Dom Perignon have been served in generous quantities at hugely subsidised rates. (The winemakers take the hit because they see it as a long-term investment.) Had I not attended these dinners, I would probably never have tasted these wines. Sometimes though, you can get lucky and find food that complements the wine. Indias greatest wine-collector is the industrialist Dhruv Sawhney, who not only has an outstanding cellar but generously shares it with other wine-lovers at the dinners he organises at the Delhi Taj. Dhruv is too rich and too classy to charge anybody for dinner.

About 800,000 of the country’s 7 million vegetarians forego all animal products, according to the Association of German Vegetarians (VEBU). “Whether it’s environmentalism, climate protection or health concerns, there is a growing awareness among Germans when it comes to the vegetarian agenda,” says VEBU spokeswoman Stephanie Stragies. An Inclusive Environment The Bachmaier family, who were inspired by their son’s experience as an apprentice in a Munich-based vegan restaurant, were the first to take the leap. Among the dishes the family has added to its “Herzkasperl” beer tent’s repertoire are soy “pork” medallions with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms and the traditional cheesy egg noodle bake known as “Kasespatzle” — except without the egg or the cheese. “Vegan food is the best way to ensure that people of all religions, as well as those that don’t eat animal products out of conviction, aren’t excluded from the festivities,” says Martin Jonas, who has been working at “Herzkasperl” for four years. “Though it’s hard for Bavarians to change their approach, it makes sense. It’s the lowest common denominator.” Other tent owners, including the Ammers — who are famous for their roast chicken — have jumped on the culinary bandwagon. The family, which also runs a successful restaurant outside of beer festival season, is serving up a chicken fricassee, but replacing the meat with soy cutlets. The neighboring Fisch-Bada tent, known for its vast selection of fish and seafood, has even added vegan red wine — filtered without the use of animal proteins — to its menu. Despite the increasing culinary diversity at Oktoberfest, those serving the food have noticed that the vast majority of visitors tend to stick to the traditional offering. “From what I’ve seen, the demand for it hasn’t matched the popularity of the meat dishes,” says Jonas. “After all, meat and beer is what this event is about, and that’s not about to change.” Gluten-Free Beer? Indeed, the broad range of Bavarian beers available at Oktoberfest is the main attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Meatless in Munich: Oktoberfest Introduces Vegan Food Options


(MyLoupe / UIG via Getty Images) Also By Mary MacVean September 27, 2013, 2:00 p.m. Ted Labuza ate sour cream two weeks past its due date. And lived to tell the tale. Dana Gunders went to the market and found fat-free milk in quarts that had no date label; the half-gallons had a “sell-by” date. A container from a different brand had a “best-by” date. Even though nearly all consumers make some decisions about what to throw away based on those stamped dates, they cannot rely on them, said Gunders, food and agriculture staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is the coauthor of a report issued by the NRDC and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic calling for changes to make the dates more useful. Currently, those dates are manufacturers’ suggestions for when an item is at its peak or are efforts to help stores manage their inventory not indications of food safety, the report says. Here’s what those labels mean, according to the report: “Best by” or “best if used by”: The manufacturer’s estimate of when the food will no longer be at highest quality. “Use by”: An estimate of the last date it’s at peak quality. “Sell by”: The manufacturer’s suggested date to the grocer to no longer sell a product, based on the idea that it will still be good quality for a “reasonable” time if purchased on that date. Still, more than 90% of Americans say they use those dates to decide whether to discard food, leading to tons of wasted food each year, the report notes. “I don’t know of any data that consuming a product beyond the date has caused illness,” said Labuza, a professor of food science and engineering at the University of Minnesota who has studied shelf life for decades. His sour cream was OK because he keeps his refrigerator at 34 degrees.