Selling Expired Food

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What does the law have to say about a retailer that sells a packaged food product long past its expiration date?

A Pennsylvania man was cooking a gourmet dinner of spaghetti when he got a whiff of the jarred spaghetti sauce he’d just bought and didn’t like it. Upon closer inspection, he discovered that the label had a date that said, best if used by 08, 2006. This being more than four years later, he was horrified.

Surprisingly, there’s no federal law that prohibits the selling of foods that have passed an expiration date and, in fact, only baby food and infant formula are legally required to have expiration dates in the first place.

Various state laws prevent the selling of contaminated food and leave it to local agencies to monitor and regulate food establishments and supermarkets.

If you’ve bought an expired product, go back to the retailer that sold you the expired product and ask for a refund unless you were sickened by it – in which case see a doctor, and then maybe a lawyer. If you are concerned about food safety, call the local Department of Health. And, of course, consider patronizing a different market and for dinner, make a reservation.

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