All Of This Walmart’s Enfamil Baby Formula Is Expired

Vinny went to a Walmart somewhere in New England to pick up some baby formula. After the purchase, he noticed that the cans he had were expired. No big deal: he brought them back to the store for the easiest exchange he’s ever experienced at a Walmart. Not an exchange, though. That’s what he would have preferred, but he tells Consumerist that every container of formula on the shelf was expired.

He recounted what went down when he tried to swap the formula for something a little newer.

Me; I just bought these and they’re expired.
Wal-Mart; Oh, when did you buy them?
Me: Receipt says about 10 minutes ago.
Wal-Mart; Oh, would you like to exchange them?
Me: Yes
Wal-Mart; Okay, go ahead and check and bring the right ones up here
Me: Um, Okay.

I go check, thinking why am I checking… shouldn’t they?

Me: All your formula is expired, cans, and bottles.
Walmart: Sorry about that, do you want cash or a refund to your card?
Me: Refund to the card
Walmart: Okay, we’ll have someone go fix that aisle.

Honestly this is the first time there was a no hassle return, almost like
this happens frequently.

It looks like this isn’t Wal-Mart’s first time.

No, it’s hardly their first time, but it’s not like they’re alone:

Walmart To Pay $775K To NJ For Selling Expired Baby Formula
Selling Expired Products: CVS To Pay $875,000 Settlement
Will CVS Ever Pull Expired Medicine, Baby Formula From Their Shelves?
NY AG Will Take Legal Action Against CVS & Rite Aid For Selling Expired Milk, Baby Formula

Perhaps Vinny’s state attorney general would be interested in checking up to see whether this Walmart follows through with their promise to ditch the expired formula. We reached out to Walmart’s PR peeps to see whether that’s the case.


Edit Your Comment

  1. sorta savvy consumer says:

    Walmart, like a lot of people as well, react based on experience. If you live in an area that has a lot of return fraud, you will get a lot of scrutiny at the return desk. In areas that don’t you won’t.

    I am willing to bet most consumerists could tell whether they are going to have return problems just by the neighborhood the store is in.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Easy solution: breastfeed your child.

    (Note: your availability of breastmilk may vary. Additional nutritional supplement may be needed, including infant formula. Seek the advice of a licensed pediatrition)

  3. CaughtLooking says:

    How does this even happen in a store like Wal-Mart that you would think turn inventory over fiarly quickly. Was this stuck in the back for several months before it was rotated up front?

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      Walmarts are big stores and inventory is hard. Especially with stuff that expires. It isn’t as easy and walking aroudn and looking especially when you have the amount of inventory they have.

    • scoosdad says:

      A quick turnover of inventory? I’m not sure that just because it’s a Walmart that it’s going to be rapid.

      I’ve had a beef with my local Walmart for almost nine months, not restocking something on in freezer aisle that’s been empty all that time. The label for it is still on the edge of the shelf, yet nobody restocks that item and its spot gets filled up with some other variety that I don’t like. (It’s one of the Stouffers frozen dinners, tuna casserole.) I’ve complained at the service desk, they write it down, promise to have it restocked etc., I check again in a few weeks, still empty, later rinse repeat. Yet if I drive an extra 12 miles to a different Walmart, they always have that variety in stock.

      Dittto on one of the popular frozen pizza dinners that I (used to) buy. When the shelf goes empty, it gets filled with something else in hopes nobody will notice it’s not there. So I’m not at all surprised that Enfamil is out of date. They probably stocked the shelves once when the store was built (it’s a little over a year old now) and never again since.

      • T-Bone says:

        I went to walmart to buy cilantro several times and they’ve been out of stock. I asked someone in the produce department about it and he said that they haven’t been able to get enough to keep it in stock until the next shipment. Maybe there is just a shortage.

    • Balthazaar says:

      I have some inside knowledge on this topic (close relative recently worked at Walmart dealing with inventory/stocking shelves). I won’t go into details but Walmart’s inventory control is extremely inefficient at its core. If you have a 24-hour Walmart nearby, do some shopping during their inventory window and watch how it gets done. Just the visible aspects of how poorly-run Walmart’s inventory control is are pretty atrocious. Then remember, that’s just the tip of the iceberg….

  4. DoraAreGames says:

    I don’t really equate big stores like Walmart with quality control. Which is disappointing. I mean, yes, okay, as a consumer you should ALWAYS check expiration dates… but you should also be able to rely on a retailer not to stock expired product and have an interest in keeping their items in date. I just think so many people (definitely not all!) who work at Walmart just don’t care and are there for the paycheck.

    I was in a Sweetbay a while back and the tortilla wraps on their shelves were four months out of date. Like… all of them. Every brand. It was kind of horrifying. There was no mold, but the soft wraps were hard and brittle in their packaging. I don’t know how… maybe they had a bunch in the back room somewhere they found and put out without checking dates, or got sent a bad order from their warehouse. Point is, it’s something the employees should have noticed and caught themselves. Then again, I kind of have a complex about this sort of thing since the supermarket bakery I used to manage had me be absolutely MILITANT about checking shelves for expired product every day, so it’s made me kind of neurotic as a result.

    • sendmoney2me says:

      its not about stocking expired product..its about slow moving product..high employee turn over rates, poorly trained employees, lack of rotation and also about a lack of time to do the job right. I work in a Walmart Neighborhood Market (it’s ONLY a grocery store) we stock the entire store in 4 1/2 hours every night with a skeleton crew and they expect everything to be perfect before the store opens at 6am. most of the crew is Haitian and can’t read English. they can’t even put the right product in the proper location let alone understand how to check the expiration dates so the few of us that can understand how to read the labels and try to do things correctly end up wasting our time correcting the mistakes of our co-workers in what little time we have

  5. ywBryan says:

    I’ve started checking dates on most of the grocery items I get from WalMart – not just on bread and milk. I was surprised to find out how many expired products they have on their shelves.

  6. PragmaticGuy says:

    This was done by Bloomberg. It’s his way of getting women to breast feed. Of course, that’s much harder for a man to do.

  7. EP2012 says:

    Nevermind the expiry date… just look at those horrible ingredients! People really feed this to babies? Yikes.

  8. LadyTL says:

    As someone who used to work in Wal-mart’s infant section, I know exactly why this happened. Not all types of formula sell well and thus do not get cycled and then you add in they do not give employees enough time to actually cycle the formula except once every few months if then. The priority is on the clothes in that section over everything else.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      It seems with perishables they could get their IT dept. to make a dynamic list that turns the cell red if it’s expired.

      • LadyTL says:

        Their inventory system is not that advanced nor is it that high tech and neither is it always properly used making that idea a moot point.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Hell, make a mark on the product itself that turns red after so much time.

  9. lucyrickyalex says:

    I remember one time at some grocery store whose name escapes me at the moment, they had a sign by the front door. It said that if you find a container of baby formula that was within two months (I think) of its expiration date, you would get a $5 gift card.

    Certainly a clever way to get the store to (force the low-wage grunts to) check the dates.

    • LadyTL says:

      Maybe if the “low wage grunts” were full time instead of part time, there would be enough of them with enough hours to rotate all that product properly. But that would mean you couldn’t treat your work force as disposable robots either.

      • lyontaymer30 says:

        Exactly you give the “low wage grunts” inferior equipment, not enough time and then expect everything to be done. That’s funny. I worked at a store 1/4 the size of the average walmart with no perishables and stocking was a at least a 36 hour task and plus the maintenance stocking done during the week. I couldn’t imagine a store that size with perishables.

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      Only if the $5 gift card money was taken out of the grunts wages.

  10. Fishnoise says:

    Enfamil is priced almost twice as much as the equivalent variety and size of Wal-Mart’s store-brand formula, and often the nutritional listings are identical.

    I can understand why they keep it in stock, but honestly Enfamil is probably more popular with Wal-Mart shoplifters than Wal-Mart shoppers.

    • Wonder_Kat says:

      You are not wrong in this assumption. I also recently learned that formula is used to cut cocaine (thanks, internet!).

      FDA regulations for formula are so stringent that any brand should be “good enough.”* It gets expensive when your kid has special dietary needs.

      *please, let’s not argue about the reliability of the FDA, how breast is best, what people should do with their kids.

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      No, No, you have it backwards. Cocaine is used to cut Enfamil.
      The babies just love it.

  11. Not Given says:

    I handed a jar of expired horseradish to the grocery store owner and told him I had thrown out an expired jar at home that morning and it looked better than his.

    I just wish the dates were more uniformly located. Sometimes I turn packages over and over trying to find it. I want to know where it’s supposed to be so I don’t have to waste time wondering if it even has one.

    • Southern says:

      The ones I hate are the ones that don’t use actual dates, but CODES.. Like on canned food, frozen food, candy bars, cereal, etc.. For instance, for Betty Crocker, they use a code like the following:

      The first letter of the code indicates the month in which the product was made.

      · The number immediately following is the year in which the product was produced/packaged
      · The next two digits are the day of the month the product was packaged on (01 – 31)
      · The other letters and number(s) in the code represent plant and shift information identifying the location of production.
      A code date which reads A429W is translated as follows:

      “A” = January
      “4” = 2004
      “29” indicates the 29th day of the month
      “W” indicates production at our West Chicago plant.

      Like a normal person is going to KNOW this?

      And just about every company uses a different code. It’s maddening. I hate it when I buy cereal, crack open the box, and it’s already stale.. or buy a candy bar, open the wrapper, and the chocolate is so old it’s turned WHITE.

      I think they should make every company that makes a food product use a standard date code – one for manufacture date, and one for “best buy” or “expires on” date.

  12. TheHub says:

    During high school I worked at a Price Chopper in upstate NY. The store had a policy that if you found an expired dairy item, you’d get another of the same item free.

  13. Wonder_Kat says:

    There was a Target somewhere near a place I lived (can’t recall which one) that seemed to always have a half-near expired dairy department. All of it, from yoghurt to milk. It was really concerning.

    • Sham says:

      Expiration Date or Sell By Date?

      • ChuckECheese says:

        They’re roughly the same thing. Products don’t have both expiry and sell-by dates. Local laws determine the significance of the date.

        • bbb111 says:

          In grocery and other big stores, many products are stocked by the distributor and not the store employees (especially dairy and soda).

          At a local grocery store I talked to a manager about past date dairy products I found on the shelf – he was furious because the distributor had stocked the shelves with product that expired before the next restocking. I got the feeling that this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

    • T-Bone says:

      My local BX often runs out of fresh meat. Their response is usually that they’ll grind some more tomorrow.

  14. Sham says:

    I used to work for a large national grocery store, and management would have us check all the dates on the baby formula once a month and pull anything that was within 3 months of expiration (just to be safe) and avoid any fines. Looks like Wally-World needs to open their checkbook and ask Uncle Sam “How many zeros to make everything better?”

  15. BookLady says:

    I’ve seen them stocking shelves at our local Walmart and they always put the new stuff at the front and push the older stuff to the back, completely opposite of the way it should be done. I always check expiration dates carefully on any food or medicine I buy there. Not just picking on Walmart only, our local Bashas grocery store seems to have expired items still on the shelf quite frequently. Really have to watch the yogurt especially. Don’t they teach these kids anything anymore?

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Walmart does it this way because it’s easier than removing the items to restock properly. Basha’s does it because they are a crappy overpriced has-been of a grocery chain that needs to go away.

      • philside92 says:

        as someone who works stocking shelves, i can tell you why this sort of thing happens – a lot of stuff has a date that’s up to 2 years in the future. rotating some stuff – salad dressing for example – is a waste of time.

        as it is i happen to work the baby food aisle in my store and i nearly always check the dates, but i am the one responsible for what goes on the shelf 90+% of the time, so i also have a pretty good handle on when stuff expires anyway. i wouldn’t be surprised if walmart has too high a turnover for someone to have as much of a clue as i do about dates or what stock is on the shelf.

        as an aside though, at one point i was told not to worry about rotating one of the brands of baby food because they had representatives who came into the store to do it for us.

  16. dks64 says:

    Corn syrup is the 2nd ingredient? Holy f*ck. As for the expiration date… there’s no magic math formula to know exactly when something will expire, it’s an estimate. It expired this month, it’s fine.

  17. jacobs cows says:

    WalMart treats America like a third world dumping ground.All this formula should be destroyed before any baby anywhere can drink this.This is why you will never find me at WalMart.Are the Ceo’s located in Communist China now?

  18. Chorel says:

    Sounds like my store. I don’t work in a Walmart but work in a store with food products. Our GM insists that expiration dates don’t mean anything so we have tons of stuff that are expired.

  19. Press1forDialTone says:

    For God’s sake, don’t trust your baby’s diet to anything sold at Wal-Mart.
    The whole store is past its sell-by date.
    Go to Krogers or Safe-Way or a -real- grocery store where the turnover
    is high for baby items.

  20. Ayla says:

    I’m hopeful that the low turnover of this product means more moms are successfully breastfeeding :)

    In other news…look at that flippin’ ingredient list! Yikes! Babies can really eat that?

  21. jbombul says:

    I currently work at target, and every morning we have a “huddle” with the whole team. We are required to complete a various task to complete. Wednesday is called “wellness wednesday” where we check all expiration dates on medicine, baby formula, and pet food. Friday is the same except with all food. We do our absolute best to find any outdated product and immediately remove it. We have a suspect date audit system to be completed every day where it even allows us to put in items that are close to outdated so the system will make sure those products are removed from salesfloor and backroom. At 4am stocking 2200 pieces of freight with a crew of 25 is no easy task. My best advice, check every outdate before you purchase. My company does everything in its power to correct this and its something im proud of. Target>>>>>>>>>walmart

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Not all Targets are equal. My local Super Target will not do things the same way your target does. Be glad you evidently have a great team at your store.

  22. Razor512 says:

    Cant they just give the kid a hamburger and a 32oz container of soda?