Friday, November 18, 2011

Decoding 'Best Before' Dates

Quest volunteer Florence did a little sleuthing and cleared up some misconceptions about best before dates. Read on!

I always find it tricky to decipher the “best before” date on a pre-packaged food item. Does “MA” refer to March or May? Is it the year first or the day first? Is the food safe to eat after the “best before” date?

As long as the food is kept in proper storage conditions, it should still be consumable and not thrown away. The “best before” date is an indicator of freshness, not food safety. Dry products, such as dry pasta and seasonings, are unlikely to support growth of bacteria and can be kept months (a full year, in fact!) after the “best before” date. Even the makers of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise say that their product can be consumed 4 weeks after the “best before” date, provided it has been stored properly.

So don’t throw away food that is completely edible! Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted globally and some of that food is perfectly safe to eat, as long as it has been kept in proper storage conditions. By understanding food labels, we can all do our part to minimize food waste!

Quick Facts from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Best Before Date

•You can buy and eat foods after the “best before” date
•Must appear on pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less
•Foods that have a shelf life greater than 90 days are not required to have a “best before” date
•Does not guarantee product safety, but gives information on the freshness and potential shelf-life of the unopened food

Expiry Date
•Found on dietary supplements and infant formula
•After the expiry date, the food may not have the same nutrient content indicated on the label and should be discarded

•Year, Month, Day
•Months: JA, FE, MR, AL, MA, JN, JL, AU, SE, OC, NO, DE

To learn more see this CBC article:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

General Operating Grants Received from Sook Ching Foundation and Marin Investments Ltd.

The Quest Food Exchange was recently the recipient of two generous grants for our general operating expenses. The first was from Sook Ching Foundation, who donated $5,000 and the other was from Marin Investments Ltd., who donated $3,500.

"We’re especially grateful for undesignated grants since this allows Quest to put the funds toward the area of most need" said Elizabeth Crudgington, Quest's Executive Director. She continued: "over the course of the year many unforeseen expenses arise and having these funds is a real gift to the organization."

The Sook Ching Foundation is a private foundation located in Vancouver that supports select organizations across Canada with an interest in education and health projects in developing countries. It also supports organizations which feed, educate, counsel, and set up health programs across Canada. Jessica Choo, President of the Sook Ching Foundation stated: "we’re pleased to help Quest with its general operating expenses; they are a proven organization with strong financial stewardship. We are confident that the grant will go in direct support of fulfilling their mission."

Marin Investments is a Canadian, privately-held, investment corporation located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Marin manages a diversified portfolio of assets consisting of private and public equities along with a variety of real estate projects on behalf of its principal owners, the Young family. The company has grown and operated successfully since its incorporation in 1952. Current and previous investment assets have been located throughout North America with a weighting towards western Canada and the west coast of the United States. Marin supports and is interested in pursuing the expansion of existing enterprises, merger and acquisition opportunities, and management buyout activities.

Thank you to both organizations for their continued support!

UBC Land and Food Systems Project for Quest

This is the first post in a series detailing a Community Food System project by six UBC students helping Quest this semester.

Hi! My name is Fion, I am currently in my third year studying Nutritional Science in the faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. In my faculty, Land and Food Systems (LFS), we explore topics such as sustainability, food security, and issues relating to the food system both in our community and globally.

In our LFS 350 class, Land, Food, and Community, all of the students are involved in a different Community Food System Project for the term. My group members and I have been fortunate enough to be able to help Quest Food Exchange. This is the first year Quest is participating as a UBC LFS community partner.

We will be trying to help Quest find farms in the Lower Mainland that have an excess of fresh produce that are not marketable and can be donated for use in their programs. Of course, many of you may know that Quest is a not-for-profit organization, so it relies on food donations to run the grocery markets. Currently, Quest receives produce from Fresh Direct, but could always redistribute more. This is why we hope to find donations to increase the variety and quantity available through Quest's programs. With that said, we are also achieving a more sustainable practice because we can reduce the amount of food loss on the farms themselves. As of right now, we are still in the middle of trying to find farms to donate produce. Hopefully we will soon find further food vendor partners for Quest and clients will have even more options in terms of types of vegetables and fruits that they can obtain in the grocery markets.

Another little project that my group members and I are working on is putting up Canada’s Food Guide displays around the grocery market at 2020 Dundas. The purpose of this is to increase the knowledge and understanding of the daily intake of the various food groups. By promoting this idea, we can begin to influence eating habits and help people maintain a healthy diet. This can also be a great shopping experience for people wanting to learn more about the foods that they are consuming.

Stay tuned to see what the students come up with!