Walmart To Pay $775K To NJ For Selling Expired Baby Formula

In 2008, the state of New Jersey filed a lawsuit against Walmart, Target and Drug Fair, alleging that the stores sold infant formula and over-the-counter drugs that had expired. Target settled with the state a year ago for $375,000 and Drug Fair went out business. But it wasn’t until yesterday that Walmart finally reached an agreement to the tune of $775,000.

Said NJ’s Attorney General Paula Dow:

This settlement puts the onus on Walmart to check expiration dates when stocking its shelves, to periodically recheck stocked items, and then remove from sale any infant formula or non-prescription drugs that are past expiration…

A responsible retailer should do no less and we expect full compliance at Walmart’s 54 New Jersey stores.

Under the terms of the settlement, Walmart will pay $500,000 in civil penalties, reimburse the state $200,000 for legal expenses and investigative costs, and use $75,000 to fund a consumer education program and develop policies to prevent future violations.

Of course, $775,000 is a drop in the bucket for Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. It also pales in comparisons to some of its other recent settlements, like the $27.6 million in California, $9 million in Texas or $6.5 million in Minnesota.

Walmart to pay N.J. $775,000 in fines [Star-Ledger]

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  1. Alvis says:

    That’s nice, but why not throw in expired food?

    • Hoss says:

      Since old infant formula loses nutritional value and old drugs a may be more potent (or otherwise have altered chemistry), it would be understandable if the FDA had special rules on selling expired items.

  2. Consumer David says:

    Hmm, I’ve seen expired Similac formula marked as “clearance” at Walgreens. Wonder if I could have cashed in!

  3. mbz32190 says:

    I don’t know much or anything about baby formula (being a younger male with no children), but is formula a few months over the date that bad? Is it like milk and cheese-bad or more like a stale box of crackers bad? From what I understand, there is no specific law banning the sell of expired food (at least nationally).

    • FatLynn says:

      I don’t know anything about baby formula, but I do know, in the medical device world, we had to put expiration dates on things that absolutely do not expire. Five years was the maximum.

      • eturowski says:

        The expiration date on medical devices generally refers to how long the contents of a package can be guaranteed sterile (i.e. without risk that the packaging will degrade or perforate), not how long the device can be guaranteed to be functional.

        • FatLynn says:

          I know, but the five year rule isn’t really based on any sort of science.

          • SagarikaLumos says:

            You’re right, it’s not. It’s simply written on the basis of the assumption that anything has to be questionable after 5 years, so that was the rule for anything that couldn’t be pinned down otherwise.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      For powdered formula, the important nutrients and vitamins will degrade over time below the threshold set by the FDA for infant nutrition. Also, the longer it sits the greater the opportunity for bacterial growth. Is your baby going to get sick from formula that expired a month ago? Probably not, but you’re not doing your baby any favors either.

  4. SagarikaLumos says:

    This really shocks me. My Walmart has such turnover that I can’t believe anything would be there long enough to expire. When I first heard that Aqua Velva moved to a plastic bottle, I thought about nabbing a glass one just in case…no dice. The day after the change was announced, plastic was all they had, and I know that isn’t a huge seller anymore.

  5. RChris173 says:

    LOL @ my photo. I remember the pharmicist came out and asked what I was doing since I left my camera click noise on by accident.

    I eventually left the store after the managers suspected me of taking pictures of prices of their items at check out lines, which is completly false.

    • Destron says:

      Well, Walmart, as well as most large retailers strictly forbid photography in the store period, no matter what your taking pictures of not just prices. Very few companies take pictures to record prices. They either use electronic equipment or do it the old fashioned way with pencil and paper depending on the policies.

      For example, Walmart is fine if a competitor walks in with a pencil and paper to write down prices, but the forbid them to use any kind of electronic device, and they to respect the wishes of competitors so they have both ways available as well.

  6. RChris173 says:

    LOL @ my photo. I remember the pharmicist came out and asked what I was doing since I left my camera click noise on by accident.

    I eventually left the store after the managers suspected me of taking pictures of prices of their items at check out lines, which was completly false.

  7. arualflower says:

    Even busy stores can have expired items on their shelves… this is commonly due to them not properly rotating their stock in their warehouse, back room, and shelf. Instead of putting the newest in the back, the lazy stocker or warehouse worker puts the new one up front, so the back one doesn’t get used for a while. There is also a posibility of gross negligence by store workers, such as the Target near me having at least 3 diffrent items on shelves with large quantities that are expired by a month or so. When I tell them, they do nothing. This is EVERY time I go there.

    However, I have developed an obsession with checking expiration dates on everything I buy and buying the one with the latest date, so I don’t waste food.

    • armchair lactivist says:

      I don’t think it’s laziness so much as being rushed. I was an overnight stocker at Walmart for a few months when I was living in a new city and looking for a better job. In the months I was there, one person every night was charged with stocking all of the infants department, which included car seats, diapers, and formula. Usually, 3-4 pallets of merchandise for the department came out of the back room, with no rhyme or reason regarding organization of the pallets. Many times, something was leaking on the top which took a long time to clean up. It was almost impossible to restock diapers (#1 priority, since they have high turnover and make lots of money), car seats/high chairs/cribs/etc., and then formula. Having an hour to restock the formula aisle would be a dream. Usually, it was more like 1/2 hour. There was NO way to check for expiring products without going through them one by one.

      Being assigned to the department maybe one a day a week, I couldn’t develop a system to check some brands or varieties every night, so I just checked as I stocked. I know that, in my few nights of stocking the department, I found expired products.

      Walmart can blame this (expired formula) on the incredibly high turnover it experiences in employees. Having a different person in a department every night prevents one person from developing a good system. Unfortunate, but expected in a company that treats its employees like nothing more than expendable trash to be used up.

  8. retailriter says:

    Um, when you don’t pay your workers squat, and have decided to be greedy and hire only part-time help, things are going to get “overlooked”.

    Look for more instances like this to occur.