On sell-by dates
No tinned or jarred food ever goes out of date: FACT
Use-by dates on tins and jars are only advisory, I keep telling the fragrant Mrs Duck, as she ruthlessly goes through our cupboard, flinging out anything that is even a nano-second out of date.
Just because it says "Consume by Jun 2003" on the jar doesn't mean you can't eat it, I assure her. But, as the brimming skip outside our house proves, she's having none of it.
Bovril, I claim, never goes off. And if the day comes - say in about fifty years time - that you can't drink the stuff, you can still use it to tarmac your drive.
I can see the pair of us now, roaming the aisles of a bombed-out Tesco supermarket in some post-nuclear wasteland.
"We can't eat any of this stuff" she says.
"It's past its sell-by date. We'll die."
Let us take as testament the four jars of Cranberry Sauce found in various cupboards in the run-up to Christmas.
Consume by, they said: Dec 2007, Feb 2006, May 2005 and - completely unopened - August 2003.
"Look," says I, "there's nothing wrong with them. Even the oldest one's fine - they seal it in a vacuum."
So I showed her.
I swear it was the winter vomiting bug.
A winter vomiting bug that does rich, red, cranberry-flavoured vomit.