Expert warns of food consumption habits amid rising prices

Food affordability has become a national crisis, according to Dalhousie University Agri-Food Analytics Lab Professor Sylvain Charlebois.

“It is really happening across the country,” said Charlebois, who has published a new food safety study that surveyed 9,109 Canadians.

“The findings reveal 58 per cent are more enticed to eat food that would have the best before date either on that day or after,” he said, adding that eating potentially spoiled food to save money is dangerous.

“Take, for example, animal proteins. I would be very careful,” Charlebois warned.

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, a Halifax community centre, feeds more than 600 peopleeach day at several locations throughout Nova Scotia.

According to Cherry Claxton,the facility’s Chief Operating Officer, many of the people who eat at Souls Harbour often make desperate decisions when it comes to the food they eat.

“If their option is to eat a can of beans that expired four years ago, or to have two dollars to go buy a new one, it’s not an option for them,” said Claxton.

Halifax resident Albert Kinslow regularly consumes food he knows could be unsafe because he has no other choice.

“It is because of my meagre finances and myinability to find affordable food,” said Kinslow.

The study, broken down by age group, asked Canadians if they believed they ate food in the past year – that was on or past its best-before date – that possibly made them sick.

The results for those who said “yes” are as follows:

  • Generation Z: 10 per cent
  • Millennials, born 1980 to 1996: 41 per cent
  • Generation X, born 1965 to 1980: 24 per cent
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964: 20 per cent
  • Canadians born before 1946: 10 per cent

Charlebois added when it comes to best before dates and expired food, many Canadians push the boundaries of safety and engage in risky eating habits that could lead to costly medicals bills.

“If you get sick it is going to cost you way more than that cabbage you didn’t throw out,” said Charlebois.

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