National bakery chain Michel's Patisserie faces a food safety investigation after deliberately selling batches of chocolate cakes, birthday cakes and edible decorations to customers months after their use-by date.
In a series of memos, obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the chain's owner, Retail Food Group (RFG), instructed Michel’s franchisees to ignore expiry dates on packaging and adopt a new shelf-life extension date, ranging between two and six months.
Retail Food Group has been expanding for years, buying one retail food chain after another across Australia.
The move has caused an uproar among franchisees, who are forced to buy RFG products under the terms of their agreements. Most of the products are delivered frozen and then thawed out and sold to customers. xxx Franchisees complain that sales have tumbled in recent years as the price of products increased and the quality fell when RFG moved to a frozen food model from freshly baked cakes, rolls and pies.
In one memo, franchisees were told that coloured, edible plaques with a use-by date of January 15, 2019 had been extended to July 15.
"If you receive coloured plaques from this batch number that still denotes the original January expiry date, please disregard this and ensure staff are aware of the new expiry date," the memo says.
Other memos extend the use-by date by three months on chocolate cakes, including tortes and birthday cakes.
Products including vegetable, and spinach and feta scrolls had their best-before date extended by two months on the original packaging.
The extensions have triggered the NSW Food Authority to refer RFG for investigation to its counterpart in Queensland, where RFG is headquartered.Questions about franchising were noted here and here.