If you've ever eaten something from your refrigerator that's past the due date, chances are, you're probably not alone. But, have you ever purchased something that's already expired? News Channel 6 did. In fact, we found a lot of expired food on the shelves of local grocers. According to the health department, it's okay for grocers to sell products past the date stamped on the package.
It's not exactly what you want to hear when you think of food expiration dates, and the grocery store that sells your food. Susan Morris with the Wichita Falls Wichita County Public Health District says, "They're not always a mandated date that they have to stop selling them at that date. They can actually sell them past those dates."
Turns out, the date stamped on your food is created by the manufacturer as a freshness date. The health department can only make suggestions to retailers about the product on their shelves.
One customer says, "That's new to me." Another says, "If it's past the expiration date, it should be off the shelves because that's just disgusting."
Morris tells News Channel 6 "Some chains or discounters will buy that product at a reduced price because it hasn't sold at a chain or larger chain." Morris says her inspectors are looking for other violations and necessarily expired food, because as she says, those aren't always use-by dates.
"If you drink the milk on that day or the day after, are you going to get sick? Probably not because they're manufacture suggested dates."
News Channel 6 went to several Wichita Falls grocers and it turns out there is expired food on the shelves. The manager of La Michoacana says it's store policy to pull expired food. But, sometimes things slip through the cracks.
We showed an expired bottle of milk to the manager. He said, "We're not perfect." He also said, "The milk guy was here today. So you know, that's part of his job too". We asked if the milk guy was in trouble, he said, "He's in trouble."
Customers News Channel 6 spoke were surprised. One said,: "Your milk is expired? That's awesome." Another said, "Wow. They should definitely be checking, especially something like that."
We checked the health department's inspection reports. Both La Michoacana and Kings Food passed, but both had expired food on their shelves. Kings Food was selling a dairy product that expired four months ago.
But the health department isn't as concerned with expiration dates on dairy as they are with canned goods. Morris says, "We're going to look at that can and look at the seams on the can. See if it's bloated. See if there's any rust on it. See if there's any problems. That's more of an indicator than an arbitrary date." Morris also says retailers that only sell pre-packaged food are no longer required to get health inspections.
Bottom line, it's really up to the consumer to be mindful of expiration dates and packaging, and inspection reports, if in fact there is one.
We did ask the health department about the four-month-old cream and Morris tells us that even though it's still just a manufacturer's date, if inspectors saw that product they could probably ask management to remove it. But it's still not a violation.