Today I received a surprise: A few spoonfuls into my cereal, I looked at the box to see that its expiration date was 3 months ago. It wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, right? It tasted fine and it didn’t kill me. But is it my fault as a consumer for purchasing an out of date product, or is it the grocery store’s responsibility to make sure their products are still fresh?
Either way, I expect to go into any grocery store or mini mart and grab any item off the shelf and have it be fresh – or at least not expired.
If you’re an unlucky consumer who finds your product expired, most stores will gladly refund your money or replace the item. What will happen to that expired item? It varies. It might be thrown out or the store might be able to return it to the manufacturer and receive a portion of the cost.
If you find a package of Oreos that are expired (rare, because they’re great sellers) you may be inclined to push it to the back and grab one in date. It’s great that you’ve recognized and avoided a potentially time-consuming, money-wasting situation, but it puts the Oreos right back on the shelf.
… until Jenny, who doesn’t check the sell-by date, finds herself with a cupboard full of stale cookies and a heart full of disappointment.
Grocery stores carry thousands of items, so it’s probable that some will be missed and pushed to the back of the shelf. Grocery associates can be vigilant about rotating product, pulling expired items and, in the end, saving you from the hassle of bringing home food that’s past its prime. How can we help as consumers? If you’ve found an expired item, take a minute to tell an associate about the product. A moment from your day will save an hour from someone else’s.
And that someone else just might be you.