Natalie Ahmat: The doorway to hell - that's how an award winning South Australian chef, described the entrance to a remote community store in the Northern Territory.
Duncan Welgemoed was visiting the Arnhem Land community looking at the food and produce on offer.
What he found shocked him so much he decided to do something about it.
Duncan Welgemoed, chef: Basically we walked in there and started taking stuff randomly off the shelves. Anything from sort of tinned foods to frozen products and I noticed that everything was way out of date. The fresh milk in the fridge was about a week old, oxidised mince the freezer, you know, months old, year old baby puree, baby food – just sitting on the shelves, so deplorable actually.
Natalie Ahmat: As a chef you’re obviously trained in food safety. How dangerous is what you found on the shelves in that store?
Duncan Welgemoed, chef: Well … legislation says that you can sell products over its best before dates. However there were damaged packaging, mouldy packaging. And you know, I mean a year after the best before? I wouldn’t recommend it. I wouldn’t expect my children to eat that food. But you know it’s expected that other people can purchase it off the shelves like that. It’s disgusting.
Natalie Ahmat: And what about the prices too. We hear a lot about the prices in remote stores?
Duncan Welgemoed, chef: I couldn’t believe it. You know, sixteen dollars per kilo for mince? It’s up there. It’s up there. I’d expect some grass-fed aged beef, not just random stuff just sitting on the shelf. Sixteen dollars per kilo for that, eight dollars for a packet of sausages. I mean, the prices are extortionate. But even complaints from the customers would hopefully prompt the owner to do something about it. But unfortunately the owner obviously has a monopoly over the shop and can do what he wants.
Natalie Ahmat: I was going to ask that, did you speak to anyone from the store about your concerns?
Duncan Welgemoed, chef: Correct, so I went to store clerk and asked if the owner or manager was about. I was informed they’re in Darwin. I said, ‘well you do realise that everything on your shelves are out of date.’ He said ‘yep, absolutely’, grabbed a piece of paper off the back, slid it to me and outlining to me that it’s not illegal to sell products over its best before date and if I had any concerns to ring the health inspector, which I was going to do tomorrow morning, when I got back to Adelaide.
Natalie Ahmat: After having done the interview, we contacted the supermarket in question and a spokesman said they throw out product beyond its use by date but continue to offer product which is beyond its best before date as allowed by law.