Dumpster diving 'OK' - readers

03:34, Dec 08 2012
caroline hall
NO WASTE: Timaru New World owner operator Caroline Hall removes old stock from the bakery shelves.

Timaru Herald Facebook users have been vocal today about what they think should be done with dumped food after two people were caught taking food from a bin behind a Timaru supermarket earlier in the week.

Views ranged from some who had sympathy for the alleged thieves to warnings of food poisoning.

User Marnie Walters wrote, "have known dozens of dumpster divers for around five years, some who get the majority of their food from this source, none have ever gotten sick."

The majority of users posted similar views to Jade Anna Key Stirling, "if it's been thrown out then they obviously don't want it.

"There are people out there that are hungry enough to not care about food poisoning ... maybe start thinking about donating left overs to places that can give it out ... I know for a fact supermarkets throw out bread etc instead of putting it down cheaply as they don't want 'those kind of people' coming in to get the cheaper food. It's food, we all need it."

Kaz Howard suggests there should be soup kitchens for the food that is still good but unsold.


However, a Timaru police spokesperson said food or any property in a bin or skip was still owned and if it was removed without permission was theft under The Crimes Act 1961.

He said the contents in a wheelie bin that sat on a berm waiting for collection was still owned and only changed ownership to the collector when it was in their possession.


A 23-year-old and 17-year-old were caught redhanded by police delving into the pig bucket behind Countdown supermarket on Church St.

Constable Chris Hill said it was rare for people to steal the old bread and fruit from the slop buckets.

"Usually they steal it fresh," he said of shoplifters.

Under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards code food past its use by date and is not safe to eat must be dumped. It can no longer be sold.

Customers are sometimes confused by the use by and best by dates.

Use by date is about health, the best before date indicates the produce quality and when the food should be consumed by to ensure it remains at premium quality.

Foods can be sold beyond their best before date provided it is still fit for human consumption, according to the NZ Food Safety Authority which implements the code.

A Countdown spokesman said "dumpster divers" were not common as supermarkets had security and practices in place to prevent such behaviour.

"The food is there for a reason, it's not safe," she said.

Eating mouldy bread or fruit can cause food poisoning, salmonella or listeria. Cutting off the mould may still not make it safe to eat.

Whether the waste food was stolen through hunger or stupidity is unknown.

The Timaru Herald