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Expiration dates too confusing on egg cartons

This letter is coming to you to represent all the illiterate underachievers (and also regular children and early-morning sleepy people in general). All we ask is to be able (at a glance) to know when the eggs we buy are outdated. We don't want to learn how to subtract today's date from the year's 365 days, especially first thing in the morning!

Consider:

The last time we bought eggs at Publix Supermarket, we couldn't find a calendar that listed the subtracted days.

The manager at Publix had to get a calculator to tell us when the eggs would be outdated.

None of the cashiers at Publix could tell us when the eggs would be outdated.

We are aware that supermarkets are allowed to choose how to date their eggs, but we ask you to inform this select group of well-paid bureaucrats who are totally removed from the reality of the situation that they should please use the month/day method in dating eggs for our safety.

Jill Silverstein

Response: We sent your gripe along to Publix. Its reason for using the Julian method of dating egg cartons, officials said, is that the store always has done it that way.

The eggs are rotated in storage coolers and display cases to assure freshness, Publix officials said. By state law, eggs are considered fresh for 30 days from the date stamped on the carton, but Publix said its eggs are pulled off the shelves in 15 days.

Officials at the Florida Department of Agriculture said state and federal laws require dating on eggs, milk and oysters. The date on milk cartons and oyster containers must show the expiration date or last date it can be sold. The dates must be printed "in the clear," which means month, date and year.

Egg cartons must be stamped with the date of packing (which is done by egg packing companies, not supermarkets). State law says the dates can either be printed "in the clear" or in Julian numbers.

Julian dating uses the number of days into the current year. For example, No. 1 would be Jan. 1, and No. 301 would mean Oct. 28. The officials said the statute was written 20 years ago, and they have no idea why egg packers were given the choice of using Julian numbers.

Apparently all egg packers in Florida use the Julian dating method and probably will continue to do so unless consumers rise up in protest, causing supermarket chains to ask packers to change their ways.

Late wife worked inside the home

My wife of 55 years died recently. I thought Social Security would pay $255 toward her burial.

I contacted the national and local Social Security offices and was told I would not get this money because my wife got her Social Security benefits as a spin-off of my Social Security checks. She never worked.

This still doesn't sound right to me. I would like to know if I got the correct information.

Robert M. Mills

Response: Social Security officials tell us that in order for the $255 death benefit to be paid, a person must have worked enough quarters under Social Security to be insured. Your late wife did not qualify because she did not contribute to Social Security.

By the way, your choice of words (she never worked) bothers the Action staff (all female). Did you hire someone to do the family cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, shopping and child rearing? We doubt it.

Reaction

I am happy to say that today I received a new copy of the film Bambi from the Disney Corp. I had been trying to get results for more than three months, but two weeks after I contacted you folks, I got a new video.

Thank you. You're great!

Brett Shelton

Thanks a million. "Action" is the right name for your services.

On Oct. 13 a long-awaited check for $51.88 was sent to me from Hill Brothers. You did in a few weeks what I had not been able to do in six months.

E. Ash

Medicare has paid the doctor. Thank you very much for your help.

Mrs. Theodore Dilday

I sure hope you print my letter, which is in reference to the Crossland Bank error letter in your column Oct. 19.

First of all, if the mistake had been in the bank's favor, the man would never have heard about it. Second, don't you think there is a chance that some loan officer closed the loan at that figure just to make a deal?

And third, if you don't agree with me, well, you look like a very nice person, and perhaps you are right after all _ and I can give you a great deal on a 1979 Pinto.

John Ruddy

Action has taken a good deal of heat on this one, but we stand by our answer. While the man may have a legal remedy, we still believe that morally he owes the money.

If you have a question for Action, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, c/o the City Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request.

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