August 23, 2014

Food Reconditioning: Is This Taking Frugal a Step Too Far?

Food reconditioning - heard of it? You may not want to know; ignorance is bliss .... 


Food reconditioning is not something that’s discussed much in food marketing campaigns much less referenced in grocery store advertising, but it’s real. And it sounds pretty horrible.

Food reconditioning is a way to maximize profits by re-purposing food that has not been sold because it’s past the expiration date, or it’s got some other problem. Like mold or bugs or something.   Yes, you read that right.  Insects.  Mold.  Food that's BAD and you wouldn't buy (and you'd return if you did).



I assumed this stuff got thrown out by my local HEB or Walmart or Target, but apparently NOT. Nope; instead there’s all this “food reconditioning” going on, in some dark and secret place.

The Food and Drug Administration knows all about it; it’s okay with the FDA, though the reconditioning has to conform with the FDA’s compliance policies.

What is Food Reconditioning?

Apparently, when the store pulls something from its shelves, that stuff isn’t trashed. It’s returned to the place it came from — and the supplier gets to deal with it.

Does the supplier toss it? Nope, they’re watching their bottom line and to toss that product means lost money. Instead, the supplier revamps that returned item into something else that can be sold back to the grocery store, and then sold to you.

Examples of food reconditioning include:

  • Chocolate ice cream that results from bad batches of other stuff because the strong flavor and dark brown color are good for hiding lots of things 
  • Applesauce that has been zapped with heat to remove the MOLD that had been in it before it was ‘reconditioned’ 
  • Rice and other grains repackaged and resold after being sifted to remove the insects and bugs that were discovered in it.

Frugal Food Reconditioning at Home 

Now, I’m all for food reconditioning at home. You betcha. That’s what leftovers are all about.

  • Leftover chicken breast becomes chicken salad; 
  • Meatloaf on Sunday turns into meatloaf sandwiches on Monday;
  • Old bread is great “reconditioned” into bread pudding; 
  • Bananas past their prime become banana nut bread or once frozen, the stuff of smoothies. 

But this idea that food suppliers are taking old food or yucky stuff that no one would buy at the get-go and re-purposing it into something else, without our knowledge and (of course) without any price reduction on the Altered State stuff — well, it sort creeps me out.

How about you?

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