Food Fight: Expired Food on Store Shelves

Seven On Your Side
October 8, 2008 4:49:27 PM PDT
When you go to the supermarket, watch out. We found loads of food on one supermarket's shelves well past its expiration date. On these supermarket shelves we found crackers almost a year past its expiration date. Canned juice? Three months passed its prime. And baby food and formula? Both, expired for more than a month. It left Haley Starbeck, a mother of a new born, wondering whether she was shopping at a supermarket or an antique store?

Last month, Haley bought baby formula at Kikos Supermarket in Fairview, New Jersey. "I opened the can and it smelled horrible," Haley said. "So I looked at all the dates and they were all like August, 08 and June of 08."

She says she inadvertently bought other products from that same supermarket, also past expiration, so she returned them. "You don't expect something like this to happen to you," Haley said.

After Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips talked to Haley, we bought these products at Haley's supermarket. Each one passed their expiration dates.

So Tappy Phillips went to Kikos Supermarket and asked the manager what happened. At first, he offered us a refund. But, the manager offered no excuse for the expired food, saying only they check expiration dates each day.

But, good news for the supermarket. On the day we went back, they were stocking the shelves with fresh formula.

Experts caution always check expiration dates, especially when buying baby food. "Especially for babies you don't need to take any chances and feed them expired food," said Consumer Report's Urvashi Rangan.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what a date on the side of the food package means. Is it an expiration date, a sell-by date or a best if used by date? The best advice? Just don't buy something if the date on it has passed. And if there's any doubt, Urvashi says, follow your nose. "If it smells funny that's your first indications that your food is spoiling and it's probably best not to eat it."

On things like crackers, you can probably safely eat something past its sell-by date. But on perishables or for something you're going to give a baby or an elderly person, the risk increases.

Story by: Tappy Phillips
Produced by: Steve Livingstone