Will CVS Ever Pull Expired Medicine, Baby Formula From Their Shelves?

CVS stores across the nation regularly stock expired medicine, milk, and baby formula, according to a damning union report. This isn’t the first time CVS has been caught stocking dangerous goods. Last year, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threatened a suit after his office caught the pharmacy selling goods over a year past their expiration dates. CVS claims that, despite investing over $160 million in a “perpetual inventory management” system, it’s nearly impossible to keep expired items off the shelf because they simply have too much stuff.

The group Change to Win released a report Thursday claiming that 58 percent of 310 CVS stores surveyed in nine U.S. markets this spring were selling at least some expired products, including at least a third of CVS’ 31 stores in Fairfield County, the only Connecticut region included.

The group released a broader report on CVS in December, taking aim at the chain for its pricing, store location decisions and unequal access to condoms from store to store, among other things.

CVS complains that Change to Win is picking on them because they won’t let workers unionize. They might be right, but we don’t really care. It’s a distraction from the real issue: CVS is still selling expired products.

CVS Stores Criticized In Report By Labor Group ‘Change To Win’ [The Hartford Courant]
PREVIOUSLY: NY AG Will Take Legal Action Against CVS & Rite Aid For Selling Expired Milk, Baby Formula
(Photo: pixeljones)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This has always been my main complaint about CVS (this and the fact that the line is always out the door because there’s never more than one cashier at any location at any time, EVER). They never restock until the shelves are empty, then they leave scores of empty shelves. Every CVS I’ve ever been to has these same characteristics–one cashier, long lines and nearly empty shelves. Day or night. I’ve always wondered if it’s actually their company manifesto.

    Anyway, I avoid CVS like the plague because it’s too frustrating to try and shop there. If there’s anything left on the shelf at CVS, you can bet it’s been there a long time, because they won’t budge on restocking until everything’s gone.

  2. HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave says:

    OK, I can be fine with maybe some expired chips/soda/candy on the shelf. I’ll even allow the occasional bottle of pills slip by, b/c sometimes the people before you didn’t rotate the stock when they re-filled the shelf. But when you start selling expired medicine? From the pharmacy? If a medicine, of which I can not think of one that has NO expiration date, is tracked in an inventory system, as it should be in a pharmacy so that you can chart trends so you know how much drugs to buy w/o having overstock, and doesn’t keep track of expiration dates, then that is just wrong. Even if it isn’t covered by the record system, doesn;t it behoove a Pharmacist/Store Manager to assign one person to check all the bottles of pills once every three months and mark “getting close” bottles, if only to avoid a huge fine?

    • TeraGram says:

      @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave:

      SteveDave, I’m with ya most of the way on this, but sometimes I think we’ve gotten too wishy-washy and nervous. I’m on three prescription meds and two OTCs. They *all* have expirations within one year. For the prescription stuff, of course I’ll be using it up within that time frame and getting new pills every 30 days. And each of THOSE will be labeled with an expiration within 12 months.

      According to my personal pharmacist and a family member who’s a pharmacist, pills (for the most part) will last much, much longer than their stated expirations as long as they’re kept in a dark, dry, not-too-warm place. There ARE some exceptions, don’t get me wrong. But to have all my meds labeled with a 12-month expiry? It seems kind of nervous and overtly protectionist.

      I realize, at this point, I’m just rambling so I’ll let you take it away……….

      • NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @TeraGram: I’m talking about the dates on the bottles IN the store, BEFORE we get them. I think that also once they leave the protection of their sealed bottles, and get tossed out onto a counting tray a few times, this does affect the life of them, as they could potentially be exposed to 90% humidity and whatever room temp is, and then the whole bottles is put back on the shelf in the same air.

      • othertim says:

        @TeraGram: Your RX bottle is going to say to discard after one year from the dispensing date, mostly because if you’ve had something for that long, you should get rid of it. The actual date of expiration on the stock bottle is seldom entered (the vast majority of which are greater than one year), only if we’re dispensing something that is short dated (3-4 months or so, and of course only if someone notices and then is diligent enough to change the date on your label). But if it’s a bottle of 30 pills and you’re taking one a day, the medication will be finished well before the expiration date so it’s not much of a concern.

    • othertim says:

      @NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave: This isn’t referring to prescription medications, only the over the counter items. I work for CVS in the pharmacy and I can tell you that there’s no way anything expired gets dispensed. I’m able to send back items two months ahead of expiration date and I take advantage of slow times to pull the following month’s items so they’re ready for me to return when the calendar flips.

      As for OTC items…well, all bets are off. I once hit another slow patch and used the time to fill an entire basket with items nearing expirations dates. The manager was…surprised.

      • ShadowFalls says:

        @othertim:

        That may be what happens at yours, but I have seen CVS stores not follow the corporate standards they were supposed to. They try and cut corners to boost margins and make themselves look better. It is respectable that you care enough to do that. But, do you have any control over the prescription medications? A sloppy pharmacist might not be keeping track of those things properly.

        As for the expiration, the companies play it safely and underestimate the expiration dates. There is nothing to say something that is expired 1 year ago isn’t going to be fine. These guidelines are in place for the most part, since they can not guarantee the effectiveness of a medication after a certain point. For some medications, you expect no issues. If the medication isn’t effective, for some it could be life threatening. If you take any medications after they are expired, you are accepting a risk. Most people aren’t comfortable taking that kind of risk.

    • bohemian says:

      @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave: I picked up a prescription from Target last week. It isn’t expired but it will expire in a few months. It was an expensive nasal spray I need to use when something blooms kicking off hay fever. I probably won’t use the entire bottle before it expires. My situation wasn’t blatantly selling expired product just annoying for not being able to take full advantage of the purchase.

      All bottles of meds have an expiration date on the outside. Including those big bottles in the pharmacy. It takes two seconds for the person filling the prescription to look before pouring pills into a pill counting tray. There simply is no excuse for selling expired meds.

      • fatcop says:

        @bohemian: Your nasal spray won’t turn to cyanide after some arbitrary date. Use it as normal. You won’t die.

        • Starphantom12 says:

          @fatcop: It may, however, be less effective- molecular compounds break down over time. If I’m paying for meds (even nasal spray) then I don’t want to be handing over cash for useless chalk or water.

          • Tyler Puckett says:

            @Starphantom12: I can promise you nothing magic will happen to that medicine when the date hits the expiry. The medicine will work just as well as it did the day before.

            Medicines start becoming less effective the day they are produced. Keep them in a cabinet, out of heat and cold, and without much humidity. They will last longer than the expiration date.

            As has been noted, every single time I get an Rx filled the expiry is a year from the date I got it filled. What if the big bottle had an expiry of a month after I got my Rx filled? It doesn’t matter. Pills are pills. Most of the stuff on the shelf in the pharmacy are placebos anyway. It only helps hypochondriacs.

  3. Robobot says:

    I worked at a CVS back in 2005-2006. After a customer complained that she noticed her freshly purchased baby formula was VERY expired, our manager had us comb through our inventory for expired baby formula, but only of that one variety of that one brand.

    That episode kinda horrified a few of us on the floor, so I voluntarily spent the better part of the next week taking cart loads of expired products off the shelves. I’m not talking about a few cans of Pringles approaching their “best by” date, I’m talking about entire shelves full of baby food and nutritional supplements that were months, sometimes over a year, past full-on expiration.

    • DeeJayQueue says:

      @Robobot: Same thing happened to me when I started working at Eckerd way back in the day.

      Mostly it came down to the managers before me having no clue how to read the 3″ thick binder full of brands and date codes for each product. Even with a book that thick there were still some product codes that didn’t match up with any standard, so we applied the best reasoning we could to whether they were expired or not.

      I probably threw out 75% of our food stock. I didn’t check things like pills though.

      • CFinWV says:

        @DeeJayQueue: Ditto all this for Rite Aid when I worked for them during college in the early 90′s. We didn’t have the “codes” for our foods, they had special reps that were supposed to come in and clear out the old stuff in the food aisles for us. So unless that mythical person came in and did that we just sold crap until it was gone. I’m always suspect of certain food items from places like Rite Aid, CVS, etc. If there’s dust on the package, don’t buy it.

    • thisisnotkathy says:

      @Robobot: I would check our baby formula in particular when I worked at Eckerd/CVS. People just didn’t buy it that much and since we usually only had one or two people working at a time, the managers generally couldn’t spare us to go hunting for expired stuff. I usually just checked when customers came to checkout. It’s funny though, some people seemed more upset that they had to walk back and get a non-expired formula (because I couldn’t leave my humongous line of customers) than pleased that I caught it.

      On the other hand, when it was Eckerd they used to only need the package for something that was expired. So for all the candy, the candy had to be thrown away and the wrapper kept. Or, ahem, eaten. You can bet there wasn’t much expired candy at all at my Eckerd, we were all over that. Most of them you can’t even tell a difference.

    • Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

      @Robobot:

      Part of the reason the formula might not be moving is that (at least in Boston) CVS locks up the formula. I go someplace else rather than deal with the hassle of trying to find someone who can/is willing to open the case for me. It’s just as quick to go to Walgreen’s for me where it’s out on the shelf ready to buy.

  4. JeffMc says:

    We get our prescriptions filled at our local CVS and I’ve learned not to buy anything off the shelves without triple checking dates.

    But I just assumed that was a problem with just this individual store.

    And I never considered that the prescriptions might be out of date. Yikes.

    • J_Sensei says:

      @JeffMc:

      As a pharm tech at CVS, I can assure you, in the pharmacy, we DO check drugs regularly as months draw to a close. We went through the entire pharmacy this week and put stickers on every bottle of everything that will expire this year.

      As for the store. Here’s the simple fact. CVS cuts hours like mad. They normally do not have enough manpower to make sure everything is in date. It can take an hour to go through a single four foot section of a shelf if there are a lot of things on it. And expiration dates are put in different spots for every product. You just have to look if you’re buying.

      I’m going to to out on a limb and say this is probably true at Walgreens. And RiteAid. And pretty much any other chain pharmacy where they have only a couple people working the front end of a store.

  5. Chumas says:

    I’m kind of a complete ass when it comes to expired milk. I just start pulling them out of the cooler and lining them up on the floor in front.
    You get this kind of behavior when you buy a jug of milk without looking at the date, take it home, make some choco milk and hork it up all over your cat because it was way past date.
    I’ve had clerks try to pitch a bitch at me, but when I start mentioning the health department and start flashing photos it usually gets straightened out. Well, except for Winn-dixie. they just put the shit back on the shelf.

    • NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @Chumas: So you are the “Milk Maid” from Clerks? Do you also perform endurance tests on cartons of eggs?

    • whatdoyoucare says:

      @Chumas: My family stopped by a Hy-Vee (a midwest supermarket chain) one Sunday recently. The 1/2 gallons of chocolate milk were going to expire on Thursday, so the store had marked them down to 4/$1 (not a typo). It was so awesome to get 2 gallons of milk for $1. It was double satisfying- chocolately goodness and super cheap. It was a win for the store too, because we definitely will be going back, plus they didn’t have to throw it out and therefore, at least made some money on it.

      • Chumas says:

        @whatdoyoucare: if it’s still under the date, you got a damned good deal. and I must say, I doubt I could trust myself around 2 gallons of choco milk being lactose intolerant. :(
        No amount of lactase tablets would calm that much milk down.

    • bohemian says:

      @Chumas: I complained to the store manager at the local Hyvee because every single jug of organic milk in the fridge was expired by a day. I expected them to say thanks for pointing it out. Instead I received a lame excuse that some customers want to buy the expired milk because they go through it so fast. Um whatever. I check the dates on everything these days.

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        @bohemian: I buy a lot of milk. Even if I know I’m going to drink it before the expiration date, I’m not going to get something that is going to expire quickly. Freshness also counts.

      • Sys Admn says:

        @bohemian:

        What the manager meant to say was that some people like to buy expired milk because IT goes through THEM so fast.

        or something.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Chumas:

      “…hork it up all over your cat…”

      That almost made me hork my milk laughing!

  6. MinorAnnoyance says:

    I’m a disabled shut-in and my daughter does much of my shopping for me and she’s an avid CVS shopper when it comes to OTC meds and small food items. It never occurred to me to look at the labels on some of the stuff she’s brought me but you can bet that I will from now on and that she WON’T be spending any more of my money at CVS. Thanks.

  7. greenunicorns says:

    You know what you can do to maximize profits if you manufacture consumer products that are sold in stores?

    Create extra-wide openings to containers so that people use more than they need. On the instructions, tell consumers to ‘rinse and repeat’ because if they repeat, they use twice as much! Put early expiration dates on your products. If you know you could never get away with claiming that your product would expire, put a ‘best if used by’ date on the product instead! That way, customers and store will throw away perfectly good product just because it hasn’t been sold yet!

    • Coles_Law says:

      @greenunicorns: …unless your goods are expiring on the shelf. And not produced by your store. In fact, I think your post, while a valid concern and potentially sneaky tactic by companies, swings wide of the point of this article.

    • GR8BigCheese says:

      @greenunicorns:

      Manufacturers don’t put early expiration dates to maximize profit since many of them have to take back expired products so the earlier the expiration date, the lower the profits.

      The sad thing is that many products don’t have a readable expiration date. I’ve seen food with coupons that expired a year ago on the shelves (coffee pods, for example) so the product is at least two or three years old.

  8. crutnacker says:

    Let’s not pretend that CVS is alone here. I’ve purchased out of date items from Wal-Mart, Kroger, and others.

    But isn’t the whole point of an expiration date that you should CHECK IT? I agree stores should take them off the shelves, but they’re not the only ones who should be looking.

    To me this speaks to two things…. nobody buys these items from CVS, and CVS doesn’t have any staff.

  9. gman863 says:

    This isn’t just a CVS issue.

    After purchasing one too many cartons of spoiled milk years ago, I check expiration dates on all foods, drinks and medicines. Although most stores I shop at do a decent job, I have found stuff at or past its date at every store (Kroger, Wal-Mart, H-E-B and Super Target) I shop at. Unless store employees take the time to rotate stock and check dates in their assigned areas this can happen anywhere.

    This also reminds me of a scam Dateline NBC reported several years ago. By placing a small mark on styrofoam meat trays that were due to expire and re-shopping the same supermarket two days later, they busted Winn-Dixie, Safeway and a few other chains for re-labeling old meat with new expiration dates. Believe it: The anonymous butcher interviewed by Dateline had left Winn-Dixie a few months before the story aired and was a co-worker of mine at the time in his new job.

    • shepd says:

      @gman863:

      Marketplace did the same thing, but boy, it was grosser.

      They’d take expired pre-cooked meat, wash off the white slime, and sell it to grocery stores after remarking the dates.

    • Five says:

      @gman863: @shepd: That’s a pretty solid justification for going vegetarian. Disgusting.

      • amandakerik says:

        @Five: My thoughts exactly… add in that some companies were putting CO2 into their packaging so the meat didn’t turn brown despite being old… It makes me really want to avoid big box butchers completely.

        I may start looking around for a small privately-owned mom-and-pop butcher around here shortly.

      • lemonchar says:

        @Five: Yep. There was a scam at a Piggly Wiggly when I was growing up where some meats would actually be bleached to wash off mold, then repackaged and sold…this has pretty much turned me off supermarket meat forever.

        Also, Kroger is actually pretty good about marking down food that’s close to the expiration date. My roommates and I have gotten shredded jarlesburg cheese for $.75 and day-old rotisserie chicken for $1 (which they enjoyed but I left alone!)

  10. NikonGal says:

    I wish the expiration date on products were more legible. I do check the dates on what I buy, but sometimes the ink is faded or it’s just difficult to read. For example, why would they stamp blue ink on a blue portion of the product? Does that make sense? It’s almost like they want to hide it!

  11. jenjen says:

    As much as I love Trader Joe’s I often find expired products there. The one thing they do right is to date stamp each individual egg so you can trust it wasn’t repackaged once the carton expired. Which some grocery stores have been caught doing. Eggs do keep well beyond their stated expiry so it’s probably not that dangerous, but they’re still not supposed to do it.

    • fatcop says:

      @jenjen: I think I have some from February in the fridge right now.

    • Starphantom12 says:

      @jenjen: Aw man, I hate to hear bad things about TJ’s. :( Unfortunately it is difficult to use old eggs for anything but scramble… they may not be rancid, but they break and separate where fresh eggs would hold up.

    • mythago says:

      @jenjen: I sometimes find them too, but they always apologize, get me a fresh product and immediately order somebody to go pull the expired stuff.

  12. ChuckECheese says:

    My impression is that groceries and other retailers selling perishables are behaving contemptuously toward consumers. Rather than lowering their prices and thereby increasing consumption, they keep prices high, product is not purchased and then spoils, and they discard it (or leave it on the shelves). They could release/resell nearly expired goods to secondary markets such as discount groceries, but they don’t do this either. I’m aware of this because of acquaintances who have a discount grocery. They used to have a steady supply of near-expired, discontinued and slightly damaged groceries of all kinds to sell. About 2 years ago as grocery prices increased, the discount grocery managers told me their supplies dried up – mainstream stores stopped reselling damaged and near-expired goods, choosing instead to throw them in the trash. The discount grocers said they were doing this to prevent competition. But at the same time they’re wasting food.

    • morlo says:

      @ChuckECheese: If the choice is either to waste food or an opportunity for profit, food will be wasted. Really all of the products have a value near zero, so putting manpower into checking dates or eroding price by selling at a discount doesn’t make sense.

  13. cametall says:

    Does medicine really ever expire unless it is in liquid form? The dates are arbitrary.

    Food on the other hand… that’s disgusting.

    • Chumas says:

      @cametall: like any chemical compound, medication is subject to oxidation, environmental contamination, molecular breakdown via entropy. a lot of the binders in tablets also come from milk or other biological sources which are suceptible to bacterial and other problems, such as mold. it only takes a couple spores to start a colony.

      • Starphantom12 says:

        @Chumas: Chumas speaks truth.

        Random anecdote: I once had roommates who would leave all sorts of stuff out of the fridge, because “it’s not dairy, so it doesn’t go bad… right?” :o I’m so paranoid about things going bad now.

  14. HogwartsAlum says:

    I’m glad I don’t shop there. I haven’t had this problem elsewhere. Occasionally you get a bad milk even if it’s not expired, but that’ s not a big deal; take it back and the store usually replaces it.

    I can’t imagine selling expired baby formula. They should be fined out the ass for that.

  15. eigenvector says:

    Rotating items as shelves are restocked doesn’t require a whole lot more time and in the end would be worth it considering how much product has to be marked as outdated. I would think this is obvious to store managers, but sometimes I have too much faith in the intelligence of others.

  16. ablestmage says:

    I’d prefer that a study be done on all retailers in the US to determine whether CVS is necessarily the bad guy here. I seriously doubt that out of every single Wal-Mart in the country, ANY of them don’t have “at least some” expired products on the shelf.

    On the other hand, perhaps the consumers here are the bad guy, for failing to check the product dates. While it’s considerate (and probably some law, I wager) of the retailer to not stock expired internally consumed products, I personally find it a two-way street. If I buy some crackers and find them stale, I’d be more apt to facepalm myself for not checking the date, than to turn crybaby about some childish injustice befallen me.

    On the other hand, prescription medications are not checkable, necessarily. Although, I am not entirely certain pill-meds or liquid meds can necessarily expire, though perhaps degrade in potency without any harm done.

    • Blackadar says:

      @ablestmage: *facepalm*

      Some people will blame consumers for everything.

      Please look up the term “Warranty of Fitness” before posting here again.

      • catnapped says:

        @Blackadar: Another obstacle for the consumer….what about the products that don’t have a “consumer friendly” expiration date on them? Many companies have opted to put normal dates on their products but there’s still plenty that really don’t give a rats ass as long as the money/profits roll in.

      • thelushie says:

        @Blackadar: Stop being an ass.

        Please post again soon and, no, you don’t have to go and look up whatever blackadar says.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @ablestmage: Walmart would be the least likely suspect around here. If you have a store that is higher priced than any other store, then that is the store where you are likely to find older items on the shelves because if the store is overpriced in general then things won’t sell as fast. Also if a store seems too big and doesn’t carry products of interest to the general public, and perhaps only products that cater to a niche crowd or culture. That’s when you have to be careful. We have a grocery store that has scrap booking supplies in it. I am going into a grocery store to buy groceries, not everything and the kitchen sink as well. Not surprisingly this store has MANY expired items on the shelves at all times and has a real problem disposing of expired food from the dairy department.

      Walmart is like a cult here, people buy EVERYTHING there, and clean the store out like its going to go out of business the next day!

    • greedychickenlittle says:

      @ablestmage: pill and liquid meds do have expiration dates. If they are in the pharmacy, they should know the dates. OTC meds have the date stamped on them. Some degrade in potency, while others can get stronger. Some change over time and can become toxic. It’s not always dangerous to used a recently expired med, but you should always be aware of the dates.

  17. SJPadbury says:

    The real problem is definitely the pharmacy.
    While everything on the shelves is in its original packaging, and can be checked by the consumer, many pills, etc, from the pharmacy are placed in generic bottles from their original packaging, and have a date of one year from the date purchased placed on them, no matter what the original expiration date was.
    *this* is the biggest problem is here, and what the government really needs to address.

  18. shepd says:

    @undefined: @Chumas:

    Same thing here, but especially with the meats. I’ve found some that’s so off you can tell nobody’s look for MONTHS. No, seriously, I had to let them know their cold cuts were THREE MONTHS past due and turning green. By the time I left the store, they’d pulled the entire rack into carts.

    How do the employees let it get like this? Sure, there might be pressure from the manager, but at some point you secretly call the health board for a surprise inspection. I’d say that date would be 2 or 3 weeks after the expiry date, not 2 or 3 months!

    • KingPsyz says:

      @shepd:
      My local VONS which just closed (*shocker*) used to routinely have expired product on shelves.

      But the day I found turkey pepperoni practicly jumping in my cart on their own as they had now grown limbs they were so old I lost my shit on the manager.

      He came back with me and found leaking rotting packages of all manner of lunch meats. Needless to say he had a bit of a wakeup call in regards to his employees work habits that afternoon and we had a cheese pizza that night.

  19. Chumas says:

    @HogwartsAlum Washing horked milk off an angry cat is no easy feat, let me tell you.

    @shepd I’ve gotten to that point with the local walmart. The store manager knows it’s me, mainly because I’m a jerk about it, so the health department knows who it is when I call. Especially since I tend to take photos REI style when I find something that’s not even close to a “whoops, didn’t see that there,” mistake.

  20. Bruce Blank says:

    “CVS complains that Change to Win is picking on them because they won’t let workers unionize.”

    This part is equally disturbing. Although its NEVER enforced, in New York State I believe interfering with a workers right to unionize is punishable by up to a year in jail.

    • mythago says:

      @Bruce Blank: Yeah, I doubt that’s an actual quote. Admitting that kind of thing gets the NLRB’s interest and makes your lawyers want to drink. They probably issued some kind of bland statement about how the study can’t be trusted.

  21. Rob Oliver says:

    Interesting article.

  22. zekebullseye says:

    I found expired Benadryl at my CVS. I showed it to the pharmacist and she embarrassedly apologized and took it away.

    Can’t they get one of their lackey employees to go around and check expiration dates? Unionization is a cheap excuse. This is just an example of bad management.

    • jayphat says:

      @zekebullseye: Speaking as a manager for CVS, whats scary is there is a weekly checklist for a certain categories where all items in that category must be checked, up to 60 days out on certain things. Then the manager MUST sign off that it was complete, including piece count discarded. Are 1 or 2 things bound to slip through, sure. That happenes anywhere. But if dozens upon dozens of items are being found, then that store manager needs let go because they are falsifying required documentation.

      My question is, how did they find this? Did they actively search for expired product, digging until they found something? Did they find just 1 thing in one store and add it to the list of “seeling expired products?” Not enough is known about this.

      BTW, where is the report on Krogers, Wal-Mart, etc on them selling expired product, because I have seen that as well.

  23. coan_net says:

    almost EVERY store will have something that is expired on the shelves. As things don’t sell well, they stay on the shelf. Workers are usually busy doing other things, and don’t have time to check every item.

    Don’t believe me? Go into any store and start looking – I can almost guarentee you will find some items that is out of date.

    …. and what makes it harder is the items which don’t use a “date” that an item expires, but a code that you have to know….. and most employees are not taught to read those.

  24. billbobbins says:

    I pointed out to a CVS manager that all of the tubes of one kind of toothpaste were expired one day and he just looked at me and said “so??”. He never took them off of the shelf.

  25. kmw2 says:

    @shepd: I worked in the meat department at a Shaw’s for a couple months in my youth. Other than the general grossness of working in a meat department, I was horrified to learn that the prewrapped meat products like lamb and veal, got shrinkwrapped and labeled with an expiration date, and if they didn’t “look” bad by that expiration date they got rewrapped with a later expiration date, ad nauseam… I’ve never bought lamb from there again!

  26. n0stranger says:

    I’ve previously mentioned I work at Walgreens, been there 3 years now. Sure it’s not the best job and sure people don’t always like us but hey no one’s mentioned us in this comment thread yet.

    Anyway, I’ve been at 5 different stores in 3 different states since starting and at every single one every perishable food item, milk, meats, eggs, pastries, bread, gets checked for dates everyday. Candy, well, it’s a bit tougher with the codes, and we once had to manually check it but now we have someone who comes in once a month, at least at my store.

    The other things, medicines, baby formula, toothpaste, all that crap, is checked by the department head once a month, and pulled 3 months in advance. That is to say, that’s how it is at my current store, as that was the managers duty at every other one I’ve worked at since department head is a title I’ve only seen at this store.

    Regardless, we keep up on dates pretty well, and definitely consistently. Of course it all depends on the people who work and how lazy/strict they are.

  27. Outrun1986 says:

    If you shop enough in your local stores you learn which stores have the fastest turn around and freshest products. I can name 2 stores here that are routinely known for frequently carrying expired products of all kinds, and one is particularly known for carrying dairy products that are past their expiration date. This behavior is consistent and nothing is ever done about it either.

    Meat, poultry and fish smells when it is bad so that is a dead giveaway. Milk will smell gross and taste sour if its bad. Its not hard at all to tell bad meat from good meat. Smelling your food before you cook it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If it smells bad take it back! We usually return anything with the slightest hint of a bad not-fresh smell. Some stores even give you double your money back if you get bad meat from them.

  28. Bs Baldwin says:

    I don’t understand that this keeps coming up and it is after the stores get their yearly inventory check. I know at my store in 2000, that the inventory company would pull off anything expired and set it aside for management to inventory out.

    The hard thing with formula and baby food, is that it doesn’t move on a regular basis. You could have the same 20 bottles out on the shelf for 4 months and no one touched them, and then they are all gone and someone complains.

  29. S-the-K says:

    You think CVS sells expired stuff now? Wait until they become a union shop and employees can’t be fired for any reason short of a felony.

    But still, CVS needs to get their heads out of their collective arse and issue (and enforce) a policy to remove expired goods from shelves.

    • greyer says:

      @S-the-K: Yes, the fact CVS publicly claims they have too much stuff and such pathetic infrastructure they can’t keep up with it is all because of those damned lazy people they keep hiring. We’ll just make them all worse by letting them organize. Just think how bad it will be then.

  30. lakecountrydave says:

    CVS claims that, despite investing over $160 million in a “perpetual inventory management” system, it’s nearly impossible to keep expired items off the shelf because they simply have too much stuff.

    It sounds like CVS have made an excellent case that they need to be broken up. It seems that they are so large that they are unable to provide safe products to their customers.

    Too big to fail = Too big to exist. Break them up along with the rest of the mega corporations!

  31. edrebber says:

    Since CVS isn’t being sued for wrongful death or injury from the expired items and the distribution is so widespread, can we conclude that the expiration dates are meaningless and arbitrary?

    • greyer says:

      @edrebber: The fact I haven’t yet been arrested for running someone over driving 90mph down country roads doesn’t mean it’s safe for me to continue doing so.

      • edrebber says:

        @greyer: Certainly the widespread practices of a nationwide chain like CVS have more statistical value than your own personal anecdote.

  32. Amanda Davis Reeves says:

    as far as throwing out near expired food…they couldn’t just donate it to a food pantry??? Costco does this with their baked goods….

  33. sassenach says:

    CVS subsumed two local chains [Sav-On and Long's] and I’ve noticed that their service continues to degenerate [e.g., I called in a Rx refill on Wednesday night that required a doctor's ok, and they didn't call the doc until *Friday* morning.] There’s a Rite-Aid across the street, but I wonder if they’re any better? When I dealt with a small, indie pharmacy, this didn’t happen.

    I also didn’t know that CVS were union busters.

  34. catnapped says:

    So is this why we’re paying so much for everything? Incompetent management/employees (not only at CVS) that are having to resort to tossing gobs of expired merchandise such that the store needs to jack the prices up on everything else to make up for it?

  35. Anonymous says:

    Good christ, and just consider that this is in America, where the meds are not government subsidized, and yet they still buy the things!
    Tell you this:
    I’ve never bought an expired product, and never would.
    I’d rather hunt and gather, collect some herbals and hire a medicine man, before spending hard earned ducats on off the shelf garbage.

    The people who actually buy this stuff should be put into intelligence testing. Failure should mean segregation from the rest of society. That way we can ensure the remaining intelligence won’t be influenced by these retards.

  36. Matt Elbe says:

    Like a couple here have stated, you will find expiring items everywhere if you look hard enough. I am temporarily an assistant manager at a Walgreens and am a stickler about outdates. . .I can’t express the amount of frustration I have for the people who refuse to do their job and check for expired products. I’ve brought it up to the manager several times and he has just laughed it off when I find something that is a year plus old. It is a company-wide problem, buyer beware.

  37. kabuk1 says:

    This is deplorable. CVS should be shut down for this. There is no excuse to endanger people’s health & their lives like this, just because they’re too damn lazy or cheap to check dates. Why would anyone shop at CVS anyway, when there are many other stores that are WAY cheaper? Example- my cheapo covergirl face powder is $4.50 at wally world. It’s $6.99 at CVS!!! That’s almost a $2.50 difference.

  38. Urgleglurk says:

    Just make it a habit to check expiration dates on what you buy. Sad, but this is a symptom (to me) of stores cutting staff, budgets and policies to maximize profits. It’s not just CVS – it’s everywhere.

    This is just one illustration of why I don’t believe in the so-called “magic of the market” as far as consumer protection. We will always need laws WITH TEETH to keep the greedy and lazy in line.

  39. almightytora says:

    I just go to CVS to exploit their Extra Care card system. Buy things that will give you the amount via coupon (e.g. get 2 candy bars for $1.50 and get a $1.50 coupon for a future purchase), and repeat over and over. I use the scanner to scan my card and sometimes I get free money coupons from there too.

  40. greedychickenlittle says:

    While we’re at it, check the dates on things around your home. Not just food but toothpaste, makeup (bacteria contamination), sunscreen (becomes non-protective), condoms (latex weakens with age -oops!) etc. And the date on milk is not an expiration date but a sell by date and the product should remain fresh and usable for at least a week. The lower the fat content, like skim milk vs 2%, will enable it to stay “user friendly” longer.

  41. trujunglist says:

    I’ve bought expired stuff at a lot of stores. I’m not sure if it’s worse to sell expired baby formula or generously expired meat. Both have the potential to cause major issues.
    One time I bought something like a slim jim and “snapped” into it, having it instantly dissolve into disgusting mush. I spit it out and checked the expiration date and it was something like 10 months expired. At least it cured me of my occasional meat stick craving.

  42. Anonymous says:

    At the CVS in the Galleria Mall, Cambridge, Mass., not only is the milk routinely past the expiration date, the temperature in the dairy case is in the high 40s fahrenheit. I demonstrated this to the assistant manager using a laboratory thermometer I brought from work, but she prefered to believe their battered, cracked-glass thermometer.

    Email to CVS’ comment webpage was never answered. After six months of pouring sour milk down the drain, I contacted the Mass Dept. of Agriculture (or whatever) who put me in touch with a representative at Garelick (the brand of milk sold at this particular store) who was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that CVS was damaging their product’s reputation this way. There would be an immediate investigation!

    That was a year ago and nothing’s changed.