A reader, who did not wish to be named, contacted The Morning Advertiser (MA) to share their anger at a delivery of bag-in-box Coca Cola and Schweppes drinks after finding that a July 2020 best before date had been relabelled “shelf life extended through refrigeration” to September 2020.
CCEP said its stock had been preserved by refrigeration during the pub closure period and product quality had not been impacted.
A CCEP spokesperson told MA: “As the Covid-19 crisis began to impact our customers in the hospitality sector, we took the decision to refrigerate our stock of bag-in-box products at that time which meant we were able to extend the shelf life of the products.
"This refrigeration process took place after production and until the product was shipped to the trade."
Refrigeration is not ordinarily required, the spokesperson said. “However, by extending the bag-in-box shelf life in this way, we have been able to preserve stock during the recent lockdown, helping us to reduce unnecessary waste and plan ahead,” they added.
This meant the company could supply ensuring bag-in-box products in good time for pubs and bars to reopen from Saturday 4 July after months out of action.
The spokesperson continued: “This solution has not impacted the quality of the syrup and publicans do not need to do anything differently in terms of how they store or use the bag-in-box products they have bought as we return to normal.
“To ensure that all customers have the right information, we have applied new labels over the existing “best before end” on any bag-in-box products that have been refrigerated.”
“We want to reassure all readers of The Morning Advertiser that they are buying products of the quality they expect from us and that they can be absolutely confident they will be serving soft drinks that meet the expectations of their consumers.”
It comes after brewer Heineken said it had been “very transparent” about extending the best before date on its kegs, as reported by the MA.
Publicans also reached out to this publication about new best before date labels on their keg deliveries.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive James Calder called the relabelling a “huge breach of trust with publicans and punters”.