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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Slimy kamaboko
prompts call for freshness

Question: Would you please find out if the manufacturers of fish cakes and tofu are required to stamp expiration dates on their products? I bought some kamaboko and found the product was old and slimy. This was the second time in a few months. If the salesman cannot say how old a product is, how are employees and customers to know? The product should be dated and removed from the shelf it it's old.

Answer: Expiration dates are not required for tofu products, according to Maurice Tamura, chief of the state Department of Health's Food & Drug Branch.

In fact, expiration dates are required only for very limited types of food products, such as baby formula and fresh milk.

Stores and/or manufacturers are supposed to "rotate" their products, although no one regularly monitors them.

"If something is wrong, customers can call us and we can check to see if a product has been rotated properly," Tamura said.

The problem may be that the store's refrigeration isn't working properly.

"The thing about expiration dates is that they're not foolproof," Tamura said, warning consumers not to be lulled into thinking a product is OK simply because it hasn't gone beyond the expiration date.

"Just because the food is within an expiration date doesn't mean it cannot spoil," he said. "A product like tofu, if it's not kept properly refrigerated all the way through, it will spoil far earlier than the expiration date."

Expiration dates serve primarily as a guide to manufacturers and consumers about the freshness of a product, he said.


McKinley High School would like to say a special thank you to wonderful neighbors somewhere on Pensacola Street, who called police last Thursday night during a theft in our aquaculture area. Because you cared to take the time to be a "good neighbor," the thieves were caught.

If you will call the school -- 594-0400 -- and identify yourselves, we would like to say a personal mahalo. -- John Hammond, vice principal

(Hammond says that for the past year, thieves have been stealing moi and other expensive fish from the school's aquaculture program. Although the school upgraded security, including lighting and fencing, the thieves weren't thwarted -- until last week, that is, when a watchful neighbor alerted police, who caught the thieves in the act of loading two large coolers full of the fish.

(Hammond said the thieves had about 55 pounds of fish, with a market value of $4 a pound. He hopes the watchful neighbor will call so that the school can say mahalo.)


Re your recent item about the problem of violators in the carpool lanes. The police announced random checks to catch these violators, but the situation doesn't seem to be getting better. There appear to be more violators, especially on the viaduct before 8 a.m. Also, although I understand the carpool lane on the viaduct is closed after 8 a.m., violators are driving through at high speeds. I've seen police patrol cars behind these violators, but they're not stopped or ticketed. Why isn't the law being enforced? I've been carpooling with my wife for many years and since the additional carpool lane has opened, it's taking twice as long to get to work! -- M.M.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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