Expired dairy items at supermarkets

One chain had over 400 outdated items
January 3, 2008 2:45:45 PM PST
A check of supermarket dairy cases found an average of 88 outdated items per store, including some cheddar cheese that was eight months past its prime, Westchester County's consumer chief said Thursday.An A&P in Greenburgh had 433 outdated items, the most of the 59 stores checked, said Gary Brown, the county director of consumer protection. An A&P in Mamaroneck had 309, a Food Emporium in Yorktown had 255 and a Shop Rite in Bedford Hills (where the cheddar cheese was found) had 247, he said.

Richard De Santa, spokesman for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc., parent of both A&P and Food Emporium, said company policy prohibits selling expired products. He called the survey results unsatisfactory and said, "We are communicating that fact - and reiterating the need to follow our procedures - to our field and store level management."

Brown said nearly half of all the expired products has passed their date by 10 or more days. Cheese, yogurt and vacuum-packed meat were most commonly expired.

Three Costcos, two Trader Joe's and a Stew Leonard's were the only stores with no outdated dairy items, Brown said. "This investigation shows why consumers must check the sale date when they shop for perishable food products," Brown said. "Some stores are doing a good job of removing outdated foods and others are failing miserably."

He suggested that consumers should be especially careful about items on the top or bottom shelves of the dairy case, where inspectors found many outdated items.

All of the 53 stores with expired items were issued warnings and will be penalized if problems persist, the county said.