THE BRONX — Moon Li is a label reader. It’s a good thing she is. What she found on the product labels at the Food Fair supermarket in the Bronx upset her.
“I saw expired food,” Li said.
She found a number of food items for sale long after the sell-by dates on the labels. She bought some of the products as proof of the problem and emailed What a Shame at PIX11 News. After we interviewed Li, we also went shopping at Food Fair and had no trouble finding expired items for sale.
For instance, the Pillsbury cookie dough was still in the refrigerated case on Nov. 13, four months after the July 1st use-by date on the package. The product contains raw eggs. Pillsbury the dough is safe to use for up to two weeks after the package date, but not four months.
We found many packages of Pillar Rock pink salmon in a pouch with a use-by date of November 4, 2016.
The company says the salmon is safe to eat for up to a month after the sell-by date, but if it’s a year old, a spokesman says it should be thrown out.
Even the Chobani Yogurt, which was five days past the use-by date, could be problem. Chobani says because there are no preservatives in the yogurt, the product should not be eaten after the date on the container.
Li also found packages of cut up cantaloupe that had double labels. The top label had a November 21 date. But when she peeled it off, underneath was a label dated November 11.
We went with Li to speak with the Food Fair manager named Marvin. He wouldn’t tell us his last name. He had no explanation for why the expired products were on the shelves, but said he’d take of it. He later told me that after we left, he had his employees check every item in the store and says the problem has been resolved.
He also gave Li a refund. But Li says she’s more concerned about the larger problem. She lives in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx and says there are only a couple of supermarkets that the mostly Hispanic residents can walk to. That lack of competition, she says, can lead to poor conditions in the stores and to consumers who don’t speak up.
“No one really complains." Li said. “It’s almost like an accepted lower standard. I’m not going to accept it because I live here and it’s not fair.”
New York City’s Economic Development Corporation has a program called Fresh that provides tax incentives for supermarket chains to open stores in areas that lack access to fresh food. An EDC spokesperson says a new Shop Rite supermarket is scheduled to open in Castle Hill the next 18 months.
Li says there should be more inspections of the supermarkets in her area. But the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets says there are no laws prohibiting the sale of food products after the sell-by and use-by dates on the labels, except for baby formula. It’s up to shoppers to check those dates.
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