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Best before dates on packaging for raw products.


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Has anyone encountered a similar issue? I’ve been feeding Mabel on Natural Instinct for a few months and when her motions were very runny (getting me up at least twice a night on three consecutive occasions) I checked all of her food and treats. Somewhat alarmed to find that dates on her Natural Instinct food was either very close or just past the relevant month.
I raised this issue with Natural Instinct and was told not to feed the product post ‘use by’ date. Unfortunately when selecting their products the ‘use by’ date isn’t printed on the cardboard sleeve but on the plastic tray in an area covered by the sleeve. Therefore one has to remove the trays from the sleeve to make sure that the product is safe - not easy nor convenient.
I asked Natural Instinct if they could rectify the matter and received -
“Unfortuantely it isnt possible to print the best before dates on the sleeves. The sleeves are pre-printed which can be easily placed onto the tubs during the production run. Additionally, our processes don't allow for the details to be printed onto the side of the tubs”.
Now there’s a problem. Any comments? I will not risk my dog’s health.
Do you buy it in bulk? I'm wondering if you can check the dates when you get them home and ensure the ones nearest their dates are used first. If you buy in bulk and can't use them all by the use by date, you could take it up with your suppliers - it is unrealistic for them to sell you a month's worth of food if it's only going to last a week. Though of course, a month's worth of food for you could be a week's worth for someone with a couple of large dogs. If you mention that you might have to change supplier, they might sit up and take notice...

Legally, NI are probably within their rights - there are a lot of human foodstuffs that are sold in multipacks, with a date on the individual packs.

Having said all that, I doubt that if stored properly (by the manufacturer and supplier as well as you) they would have caused Mabel's funny tummy, particularly if the meat didn't smell iffy to you. Use by dates tend to err on the side of caution, and dogs can eat some really manky things and not have a problem. But it would still be best to avoid the risk, of course.
I used to use this brand for my ferrets and never even thought to check a date on them as they were frozen! I just used to portion it up with a hammer and chisel and defrost what I needed as and when.. I understand once thawed it would have to be used pretty quick but should it not be ok for a long while if it remained frozen?
Yes, it should last for ages. But if you buy it already frozen, you don't know how long it's already been frozen for. Then again, the 'use by' date is probably intended as the date after which the quality may begin to deteriorate, rather than when it becomes potentially dangerous to eat.
Judy, I tend to buy no more that 4 items in any one time which will provide meals for 16 days (4 kgs). These are kept in the freezer until the day before they’re required. I take your point re NI not obligated to provide easily accessible dates but the outlet from which I buy them has raised this issue with NI to no avail and I was hoping that a request from a consumer wouldn’t be summarily dismissed. I’ll have to explore other brands. What I like about NI is that the meat comes in 500g trays. Ah well, something else to try us. Hope things are settling for you both.
You'd think that given how long meat does last in a freezer, NI could manage to get it to shops when it still had a few months to the use-by date - when I used Nurturing by Nature I would buy 40 days' worth at a time (because their chicken carcasses were sold in packs of 40).

If you're just buying 4 packs at a time, it wouldn't be that difficult to slide the trays out to check the date? It'd be interesting to know if most had longer dates. The chest freezer of NI at my local pet shop isn't well organised and I often had to have a good rummage to find the varieties I wanted. And of course, those closer to the top will sell first, so if the shop just piles up each delivery, the ones at the bottom could linger there for a long time.
Once again, nail on head. However, I’ve recently come across this month’s date, last month’s date, and the one I’m currently using expires in November. I appreciate that it’s down to the outlet but one would have thought that, if a best before date can be printed on the side of a tray, it could also be printed at the end of a tray. Perhaps I take too optimistic a view of commercial pragmatism. I didn’t mean to stir a hornet’s nest. Sorry. The counsel for the defence may rest. Now, flower arranging…….
I didn’t mean to stir a hornet’s nest. Sorry.

I see no hornets - it's an interesting discussion :) I quite agree, it would be far better if the use by dates were easily visible. Mind you, if the supplier sees everyone checking dates it might persuade them to rotate their stock carefully. And it would at least be good if NI took steps to ensure that their food is good quality at point of eating - it's a shame they're not interested.
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