Update: It turns out I was reading the date code on the Nestle Pure Life wrong, so I apologize to Rite Aid for stating they were selling expired water since it wasn’t expired. However, the point of this post stands – it’s not illegal to sell expired food in California, and there’s little incentive for businesses to remove expired food from shelves and write off the loss.
I stopped by a Rite Aid store today to pick up two 24-packs of Nestle Pure Life water. They’re on sale for $3.50, and you get a $1 +UP reward when you buy 2. I’ve been looking for a good deal on bottles this size to add to our stash of emergency supplies, so I was excited about this deal.
But when I got to Rite Aid and checked the expiration code on the package, it said July 31, 2011.
I don’t like that particular store much and am not friendly with the staff, plus I was in a bit of a rush so I just left without buying anything. But when I got home, I decided to find out what agency such violations are reported to. And so I discovered that there’s no violation at all. Apparently there’s no law in California that prohibits the sale of expired food items.
If you play The Drugstore Game, you might recall that CVS agreed to pay $2 for every expired product found on its shelves, but the legal theory was not that they had violated a law against selling expired food but that they had violated state law regarding false advertising and unfair business practices since consumers expect products on store shelves to be within the expiration date.
I am considering a complaint to the state Attorney General’s Office to ask them investigate Rite Aid’s practices in the same way they investigated CVS’s practices. But the real bottom line is that consumers must watch out for themselves and check expiration dates. It’s a good habit to get into anyway.